Laura Johnson

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Laura Johnson

  • Legends of Marithia: Book 1 - Prophecies Awakening: Uncut and Extended Second Edition on Aug. 24, 2012

    I received a free copy from the author in return for a review, so here it is! :) What do you get when you add magic, dragons, treason, prophecies, and (surprisingly) vampires? A enjoyable and fresh fantasy world. The dragon lore and world-building was well-done, although sometimes the jumps to different scenes (flashbacks, visions/"spying", etc.) was a bit disorienting, and I found the prophecies a touch on the cheesy/obvious side. I like my prophecies cryptic, with multiple meanings, so that I can look back at them later and go, "Oh! Damn, that was clever" and be hypothesizing throughout the story. Still, the book earned a solid 4 stars. Kassina (our vampire villainess) is deliciously wicked (and with a healthy sexual appetite, hehe!), and Vartan is an easy-to-like character whose POV I enjoyed following.The idea of dragon reincarnation fascinates me, and I look forward to seeing how Vartan will cope with his relationship with the princess should he become a dragon The artwork in the book was a nice treat. Kudos to all the artists for the gorgeous images.
  • All That We See Or Seem on Sep. 30, 2012

    I received an eBook copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. All That We See Or Seem is a Young Adult Fantasy novel in which a quartet of teenagers collectively known as The Four enter Bevain, another world that exists parallel to their own and is their true home. Each has a special role: Lily is the Dreamer, Brin is the Stargazer, Caer is the Fortuneteller, and Ruarc is the Warrior. The plot mostly follows Lily and her actions (although it shifts occasionally to others with no dominant second character) as she fights Ronan, the self-proclaimed King of the realm who, despite his wickedness, has a sexy charm that she can't permanently shake off. In order to defeat him, the Four must band together and fight their first battle, although that is only the beginning of a thicker plot. Although I loved the idea and imagination behind the plot and the roles of the characters, the story was not as developed as my expectations had led me to believe. The novel read like a first draft, complete with loose writing, absent and/or irrelevant elements, and overall sloppiness. Some characters, like Brin and Caer, played almost no role in the story. They almost exclusively appeared when they had a POV scene after Lily stepped into a commanding role. I also felt as if I had been dropped into the middle of a story, as too many characters are introduced at once, and I feel disconnected from them. None of them have any idea at all, either, but the way that they learn is jarring and awkward. My main pet peeve with this novel was the carelessness of the manuscript. I found grammatical errors and overlooked typos that made the manuscript seem as if it had only seen a word-processor's spellcheck. I laughed aloud when I read about some character having to fear “the king's furry” (Page Unknown). Some others, within a short span of pages, included: “...but I new [sic] that he felt it was stupid to mourn” (100), “...as if they had been used to tear the fleash [sic] from something” (102) and “you miss understand [sic]” (107). Other errors, more on the grammatical side, were abundant enough to tell me that it was an absence of knowledge, not just a few oversights, of the difference between “new/knew” and “your/you're,” for example. No matter how awesome a book may be, I can't reward sloppiness with five stars. And now for the highlights, so I can end this review on a positive and hopefully inspiring note (since I am loathe to give entirely negative reviews unless I feel a story truly deserves it, in which case it would not be getting three stars). The scenes with Ronan are, in my opinion, the best written. I can picture him and his actions quite well in my mind, and his voice, to me, is drop dead sexy. I'd have said, “Yes. I'll go with you to save the lives of tens of thousands of people” in a heartbeat. The perceived soul-mate aspect could have been played up a bit more, but his gradually increasingly invasive presence in Lily's life is well done. The romantic tension between Larkin and Lily (and Ruarc) added more depth to the story. It was a bit on the sidelines at times, but considering what the author chose to do with it, it worked well. I only wonder why Ronan wasn't more jealous and/or better used a threat on Larkin's life as a way to manipulate Lily into joining him. It felt like an idle threat. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but there wasn't enough there for me to give a four star rating. However, I do see potential for this story and its sequels, as I really want to see more of Ronan (*dreamy stare*). I will be reading Echo Island next (note: not part of the same series), and I hope that it earns at least a four star review from me. (For those who care, I picture Ronan as Tom Felton. Tee hee!)
  • Echo Island on Oct. 15, 2012

    I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. For some reason, my review never came through when I tried to post it a couple of weeks ago, so let's try again. (As a side note, I did not realize that this was the second book in a series when I read it.) Echo Island is a paranormal romance that contains an equal amount of action and a bit of horror-esque mystery on the side. Cassandra, a Vampire, and Harper, a Shapeshifter, are the main players, although the cast is large and there is a wide range of supernaturals, including Valkyris, Sirens and Selkies. After being invited to a supernatural conference known as the "Fundur," supernaturals begin to get attacked one by one until the remaining supernaturals decide to take action. Despite their differences, they must work together and play on each other's strengths if they want to stay alive. Throughout this, Cassandra and Harper struggle with romantic feelings despite knowing that they are not meant for each other (due to the concept of "mates"). This is the second book I have read by this author, and I have noticed a significant improvement, both in writing style/plotting and in grammar. It was much harder to put down than All That We See Or Seem . There are still mistakes present, but they are much less frequent, limited to apostrophe usage, and did not irritate me. The dialogue is still relatively loose, as much of it could be trimmed. Because the cast is so large, and the author tries to include all of them in the action, there can be a lot of characters talking in one scene. I found this difficult to follow. There was also a bit of info dump in the dialogue to explain the various characteristics of each supernatural. I didn't see how the Valkyries played a significant enough role to merit inclusion in the story. They seemed present just to increase the variety of supernatural critters, and I never really understood under which circumstances these immortals will/will not die. The pacing of this story is good. The disappearances/attacks happen in intervals that are neither too short, nor too long, although I felt that Cassandra and Harper did not take enough initiative. They seemed mostly swept along until the very end of the story. Cass is sexually aggressive and is not ashamed of her past flings, which makes her a character who does not take anything from anyone. This book handles the problem of soul mates well. I dislike, in general, stories that have soul mates who, because they are mates, fall instantly in love with each other and go all sappy about it because they are "meant to be." This does not happen with Harper and Cassandra. This book earns a four from me. A low four, but a four all the same.
  • Open House (Pool of Souls Series, Book 1) (Novella) on April 24, 2013

    I won a free copy of this book from the author; here is my honest review. Open House is a short novella in which two young soul mates, Rebecca and Robert, are match-made by the Goddess Aphrodite after years of being apart and not realizing they had highschool crushes on each other; however, Aphrodite's lover, Ares, has other plans that might tear them apart forever. I'll be straight up - this book gets 2.5 stars from me, but not quite high enough to round up to Goodreads' 3 stars. I wanted to love this book--I really did. It seemed to have a great premise. I'm a huge fan of mythology, and I was intrigued by Aphrodite being a matchmaker for soul mates. Her conflict with Ares, God of War, seemed like it might pose disastrous for the lovers. However, I felt that the bonding of Rebecca and Robert demanded a larger plot arc than was developed here. I just didn't feel enough conflict. Sure, there are a few small obstacles, but they were resolved without much difficulty. Even with these minute speedbumps, the conflict was all external -- there was not a single moment of doubt in my mind that Robert and Rebecca were going to be okay in the end despite Aphrodite mentioning that souls that are almost bonded but then separated are forever incapable of finding each other. I wanted to see their relationship develop (ex. maybe Robert says something stupid because of Ares that pushes Rebecca away and Aphrodite has to find a way to make to prevent them from messing up, or something). Instead, they meet and then all they can think about is making love 24/7. I wanted to see more of their personal and professional lives clashing, of what their friends think of the relationship, of what their family thinks, maybe. Ares' interference could have done so much more. The struggle between Aphrodite and Ares was much more interesting; it seemed that they were the main players, not Robert and Rebecca. If this was the intent, however, I didn't feel that Aphrodite and Ares got enough of a stage. I liked the descriptions of Aphrodite's realm but still felt there could have been more development. Open House was a quick read overall (it's 60 pages), although it took me a while to finish because I wasn't super hooked by it, unfortunately.(less)