Alana Rock

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Smashwords book reviews by Alana Rock

  • Symphony of Blood, A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case on Dec. 21, 2011

    Hank Mondale, a down-on-his luck private investigator, has dug himself a substantial hole between his alcoholism and gambling addiction. He can't pay his kleptomaniac secretary, is about to get evicted from his office building, not to mention the hired muscle breathing down his neck from his overdue losses on basketball games. A new case seems to practically fall into his lap at just the right time, backed by a secretive wealthy client. Hank is not about to blow his chance to pay off his debts with one job, and agrees to meet with the client to find out more details. Once he realizes it's a very rich real estate mogul and his spoiled, drugged-out daughter with wild claims, he tries to back out. But he instead finds himself on a case that seems to tie-in with several missing persons and two odd homicides.... I have to admit, this is not the type of book I normally read. After reading just the first 10% of the book, I was nearly ready to put it down from there. It's well written, and the characters are detailed... but I didn't find myself liking the main character, Hank. Now, Liking a character is not a requirement for enjoying a book, but it helps. I couldn't identify with his gambling addiction, and I have demons from growing up regarding relatives and alcoholism... and the entire beginning of the book is Hank's personal train wreck of a life. I just plain didn't want to read that part. I did, and I am glad because once it pushed through that and actually seem to pick up the story it was much more interesting. At one point in the story, the point of view changes, and I actually found that part of the story to be the best and most interesting to me. The innocence Adam Pepper writes into essentially a "monstrous" character was wonderful. I think "Symphony" as it is later named was probably my favorite character out of the book. I found myself rooting for the monster. The other characters were all so damaged and ruthless (except Hank- but I already explained my problems with him) I was basically ready for them all to die and the monster's hands so I could be done with the book. It was decent... I likely will not read it again. If someone likes a darker story with gritty, damaged characters and a horror/supernatural element- then I would recommend they try this book out. But it if's already not your cup of tea, this book won't change your mind about that.
  • Adventures In Funeral Crashing (Funeral Crashing Mysteries #1) on Dec. 27, 2011

    Thanks to the R2R program to give me an opportunity to read and review this book! This is a fantastic, witty YA mystery with romantic, and almost Scooby-Doo-like elements. I would highly recommend it to anyone. The premise: Kait is your average social pariah at school, even the "nerds" would be demoted by asking her out. Her mother passed away from cancer, and ever since then one of her coping mechanisms has been to continue to attend funerals.... for people that she has never met. It comes from a good, innocent place, but she is essentially a funeral crasher. Before her mother had gotten sick, she had the normal "average" teenage life. But once her mother became sick, and her best friend, Airel, suddenly fled to the popular crowd ... Kait had been given the short end of the stick in terms of death and friendship. She crashed the funeral of a college student found dead of an overdose. She always has certain rules she follows in an attempt to not get caught, but every explanation falls right out of her head when confronted by the hottest guy at school, Ethan. Turns out Liz, the college student, was his half sister. With no idea how to answer for her attendance, she flees, thinking that her status as a social pariah might mean he would forget about her. Instead he confronts her at work, and reveals that he thinks that Liz was murdered instead of an overdose... An thus begins a social status defying partnership to investigate the circumstances of Liz's, and several other college girls all found dead of heroin overdoses. What I thought: This is so witty and refreshing. Parents will not have to worry about sex-crazed teenagers, but with the hottest guy in school and even a murder suspect being very easy on the eyes... there was still fodder for your imagination. It really develops the friendship between Kait and Ethan at a realistic pace. I found it believable- even with teenagers investigating a murder. Everything fell within the realm of believability and was true to their age. It was still enjoyable for me, as an adult reader. I would have no problems recommending this book to a teenager to read. Likely, because of the main character being a female, it would appeal most likely to girls, not boys. It really has some witty moments, and the youthful tenancy to obsess just a little about certain things (for Kait it was peanut butter banana drinks) really added special touches to make this an absolutely enjoyable read. Great YA book!
  • The Ylem (The Ylem Trilogy, # 1) on Dec. 27, 2011

    Overall Impressions I really, really enjoyed this book, far more than I even expected to! It's a good thing I still have some credit on my gift cards so I can buy the next book! The fact that it is a YA should not scare off any prospective readers. I did not find the characters to be overly whiny or acting too young (a problem I have found in other YA books.) Basic Premise Kalista (great name, by the way!) is not your average teenager. Her mother passed away years earlier in a car crash, so Kalista has "issues" with cars and driving. She also bring new meaning to "electric personality" with the amount of static electricity her body seems to produce. She also, along with her father, just moved from New York to Ruidso, New Mexico... She has already found a few good friends, and an "interested" male admirer, but due to a bad reaction from her former best friend in New York after Kalista declaring her feelings for him, she has pushed away the possibility of relationships with guys. She finally meets the school heart-throb male, and finds she is not immune to his attractiveness. But her resolve to keep guys at arm's length is tested when the guy seems to want to talk to her, and another is urging her to go out... Tristan is very alluring- but in a different world than Kalista, more than she even knows.... Life becomes even more complicated when teenagers are missing, then bodies prove that they were killed. And a chance encounter leads her to an odd, old book that details a new aspect of the world that Kalista never knew. She begins to learn the secrets of that world, but will she allow herself to learn the secrets of herself as well? Thoughts- warning, could contain spoilers I can't say how much I enjoyed it. Sadly, my computer was down when I had finished it or I might have bought and started the second book right then and there! I didn't find many problems that I usually find in a YA novel. I would recommend this to anyone that would enjoy "shifter" books and does not mind YA. It was entertaining, had action, and romance. All around a great book! As with any book, there were a few points that left me wanting... ♦The change in point of view with Kalista and Caleb was disconcerting at first. I had no clue who that guy was, and why I was reading about him. Also- several of his parts were very ADD it seemed... his thought processes just bounced all over and it was difficult to keep up with his part of the story. ♦OK... So Kalista finds out about new things in her same old world, gets proof that they are real... then just ignores the other part of her reading/warning... maybe it's because I'm older- but if some old lady tells me I have "the Ylem" in me, and I find out there are shifters and stuff for real- I would at least ask those shifters when given a chance if they had heard of "the Ylem". It's like she just ignores her "strangeness" and accepts the shifter thing much easier than I expected. ♦I really wish there was more build up of the romantic feelings between Tristan and Kalista. It was better than some books showing a "reason" for them to be attracted and having some genuine interaction without just falling all over each other. But even more build-up would have been nice. I fudged in favor of the book on the stars- (shows 5 stars on review)- but I am really, really picky about 5 stars- so I actually gave it 4½♥'s.
  • Blood Warrior on Jan. 10, 2012

    Overall Premise Alexa is most definitely not your average teenager. Instead of dates, dresses and friends, she has "practice" with her Mother and often ends up with black eyes. Instead of riding the bus to school, she and her younger sister must run miles each day to get there and home. The "hot bad boy" happens to be her best and only friend, while most others shun her. She has so much anger, and her protective instincts flare when her younger sister is grabbed by a popular jock that she nearly snaps and floors the guy. Somehow, that's the least of her worries. Expecting her Mother to come down on her and insist on more "practice", she is greeted instead by an enigmatic stroll in the forest. Suddenly, her Mother and her younger sister seem different, as if they are sharing a secret against her. Only more questions are raised when her Mother gives her a gift- a sword... Who and what is Alexa? Why does she always feel such anger? She finds out the answers in the worst possible of ways, and begins her journey into the unknown... What I Thought This book is a perfect example of what I love about YA. It's all the good things of a YA novel. Strong main female character that still has some vulnerability. Smoking hot best friend, Jackson, that obviously wants more, and also ends up being more than she expected. Kayden, equally dangerous bad boy but draws Alexa in despite her attempts to stop it. The love triangle created was still relatively innocent and believable. It has different creatures, I loved all the races and mixes therein. I especially love the seemingly utopia show it's darker underbelly- and the underlying social commentary that it creates. It's really well written, flows through the story without getting too whiny, or bogged down in teen emotions while still being true to the heroine's age. There is action, romance, cat fights, death, fighting matches... there are so many things to like about it. I most definitely will be getting book 2 when it comes out at the end of the month. Great book- highly recommended to anyone who enjoys UF and does not mind the milder YA romance. I actually gave it 4½♥'s vs. the 5 that the review shows. It was really good- but I'm persnickety about handing out 5 stars.
  • Amaranth (The Resistance Trilogy, #1) on Jan. 26, 2012

    Overview Amaranth (The Resistance Trilogy #1) Camille has finally taken a step toward breaking away from her abusive relationship and dysfunctional family. A trip to Paris, where she has always longed to go, research for a book she longs to write (but has not even told her best about), and a "special" coat she spent way too much on, but it makes her feel happy and in control. It's here in Paris that she has a chance encounter with Gavin Devereaux. He somehow can tell she's searching for something and recommends that she move to Paris. This is too much of a leap for Camille, and while she is drawn to Gavin, she wanders through Paris on her own without ever contacting him again. She is, however, inspired by his suggestion... A year and a half later, Camille is now living in Southern Louisiana. She has "improved" her life by leaving Seattle, is attending a university, and working at a local bookstore; at the same time, she has just traded one abusive relationship for another. The Hoodoo influences in the area have lead her to attempt to work spells and rituals herself to banish her newest, and worst, abuser yet. But nothing seems to work! She is still trying to rid herself of Andrew when her best friend finally visits for the first time from Seattle, and Gavin appears at the local bookstore. Still drawn to him, but without Paris to distract her, will she find what she has looked for in his arms? Despite what she may, or may not have been looking for, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed: Amaranth, an exile world for vampires. Soon she must decide what path to follow and what price she is willing to pay. For all paths require a sacrifice. What I Thought I've never been this conflicted about a book before. I've waited a full 24 hours after finishing it, hoping that time and distance would clear up my thoughts and resolve my opinion, but to no avail. I so badly wanted to like this book, not that I dislike it... The best way I can describe what I think is to lay out the pros and cons. My overall rating fluctuates between 3 and 4 ♥'s. I can seem MANY people liking this book despite my ambivalence. Pros: The characters are vivid, the description is impeccable, even the cover is so lovely. It is written very well, and one can't help but want to read the next in the series to find out just what happens. She really builds and entirely new world, with an interesting take on vampire "mythology". The main male lead, Gavin, is most definitely swoon-worthy. And I simply loved the small nods to Twilight and Johnny Deep (*sighs*). Cons: Part of who Camille is, reads (to me) as a standard relationship abuse victim. She seems to define herself by the bad males she has paired herself with in the past. Granted, some of her "current" victim behavior is supernaturally enhanced... but enhanced or not it's there. She's a victim at heart, in my opinion, and I just don't like victims. Yes, she did take steps to break away from abuse but she seemed stuck in a cycle she was doomed to repeat no matter what steps she took. And her choices that she makes! It's been a while that I've read a book where I so badly wanted to reach through those pages and smack the main character (in this case, Camille,) around. ALOT! Because of these reasons, I never connected with her character. And her relationship with Gavin, while he is swoon-worthy, seemed to have that "instant love- just add kiss" syndrome. Maybe I've read too many books recently using this approach, but I wanted to really see more "falling in love". Maybe I've just become too jaded to "buy" what that syndrome seems to be selling to so many books. Additionally, the "blurb" of the book gives out far more spoilers than I would have given, had I written it. It really is a book I can see so many people reading and enjoying; I know all readers do not have the same hang-ups that I do. Most likely, I will read the next because I want to know where the story is going to go- and hope- that Camille redeems herself as a character in my eyes. But on the other hand, I will also likely never read it again. I "erred" on the forgiving side for actual stars to appear on the overall review- but my heart is still not sold on 4 stars. There are still times that I want to just be evil and give it 3.
  • Between on Feb. 19, 2012

    4 of 5 stars Read in February, 2012 Overview: Lindsey is torn between two worlds: in one, she is a college student with a boyfriend that loves her and divorced parents. And by accident she is catapulted into the other, a fantastical world of imaginations and a hot Scottish hunk of highlander that speaks French to boot. Aiden ferries souls from their death to heaven. As she spends time with Aiden, her love begins to grow and blossom. Can love transcend the boundaries between life and death? And what if it was until 'life' do you part? What I Thought This is a charming story that quickly sucks you in. I found myself eagerly reading this book, fighting sleep to get just a little more in. The main characters (and even secondary characters like her parents) are well established in the book, and very likeable. Well... her mom may have been a harder sell on the likeable, but in the end she was. I just got so caught up in the story, trips to France during the "Sun King's" reign, remembered trips to Seattle lead to interesting reactions to cars and phones and such on Aiden's part. It ended up being a sweet, heartfelt romantic story that whisks you away with it's pages. The down side, I can find one in just about any book. In Between, it's a very vanilla romance- don't read this expecting a 'bodice ripper', although there most definitely are sexual overtones. Think of the device used in movies where you see the couple kissing and making out, then the camera slides off to a view of the curtains blowing in the wind; Between is that kind of book. There is some 'hot and heavy' time, but there is NO ... smut for lack of a better word. I still really enjoyed it, and would recommend it to others; but I admit, I wanted smut. Really I did... it had all the ingredients for a good 'roll in hey' but we would only get to see them kiss, then head off for the hey. So if you are looking for a vanilla romance story that is life affirming, and paints a loving, kind view of God and the afterlife (for those that would go to heaven, anyway) then I highly recommend trying out this book. If you are looking solely for sex, you may need to find your highlander six elsewhere.
  • Between The Land And The Sea on Feb. 28, 2012
    (no rating)
    Read from February 23 to 26, 2012 Delightful, engaging YA Mermaid Story. Marina has traveled the world with her father, but when he is headed to Afghanistan he refuses to allow her to join him like usual. Instead, she must spend her senior year with her aunt and cousin and attend public school for the first time in her life. She leaves behind San Fransisco, and heads to Atpos, and much smaller town by the sea. Is drawn to the water, and quickly sees hauntingly familiar eyes in the water, almost as familiar with her own reflection. Could it have been a scuba diver or a surfer playing tricks? High School is hard enough without having already humiliated herself in front of the hottest surfer at school, let alone worry about mythological creatures.... Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book. I even stayed up late the final night I was reading just to find out what happened. The ending seemingly buttoned up a little more quickly than I would have liked. Foreshadowing to the sequel was good, almost too good- I was expecting a few "revelations" during the first book that did not come to pass. Sweet and innocent, but does not suffer, in my opinion, from the "love at first sight" syndrome; the story allowed time for the romance to begin and grow at a normal pace. As it is a YA story, don't go into this expecting hot and heavy romantic action; but there is still romance aplenty. This is a book you can give to a teen without worry of inappropriate or too adult themes. I liked the variety of characters. Just because it had surfers and on a beach, they were not all blonde, ripped magazine cover teenagers. The main character was brunette, there was even a 'plumper' redhead friend... there was not an over-use of stereotypical, cookie-cutter characters. I really appreciated the diversity. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys YA, likes a mermaid story, or even just paranormal/urban fantasy in general. It was a charming book definitely worth reading, and I will most definitely look at getting the sequel see how it continues...
  • Between The Land And The Sea on Feb. 28, 2012

    Read from February 23 to 26, 2012 Delightful, engaging YA Mermaid Story. Marina has traveled the world with her father, but when he is headed to Afghanistan he refuses to allow her to join him like usual. Instead, she must spend her senior year with her aunt and cousin and attend public school for the first time in her life. She leaves behind San Fransisco, and heads to Atpos, and much smaller town by the sea. Is drawn to the water, and quickly sees hauntingly familiar eyes in the water, almost as familiar with her own reflection. Could it have been a scuba diver or a surfer playing tricks? High School is hard enough without having already humiliated herself in front of the hottest surfer at school, let alone worry about mythological creatures.... Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book. I even stayed up late the final night I was reading just to find out what happened. The ending seemingly buttoned up a little more quickly than I would have liked. Foreshadowing to the sequel was good, almost too good- I was expecting a few "revelations" during the first book that did not come to pass. Sweet and innocent, but does not suffer, in my opinion, from the "love at first sight" syndrome; the story allowed time for the romance to begin and grow at a normal pace. As it is a YA story, don't go into this expecting hot and heavy romantic action; but there is still romance aplenty. This is a book you can give to a teen without worry of inappropriate or too adult themes. I liked the variety of characters. Just because it had surfers and on a beach, they were not all blonde, ripped magazine cover teenagers. The main character was brunette, there was even a 'plumper' redhead friend... there was not an over-use of stereotypical, cookie-cutter characters. I really appreciated the diversity. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys YA, likes a mermaid story, or even just paranormal/urban fantasy in general. It was a charming book definitely worth reading, and I will most definitely look at getting the sequel see how it continues...
  • The Society of Sinners on Feb. 29, 2012

    Read from February 19 to 23, 2012 This is actually like five novellas: Brandon and Stacy’s, Jazz and Cherish, Gabe and Taylor, Dominic and Mika, Dimitri and Annabelle; but they all have intertwining stories. The vampire and other supernatural mythology is unique; they are blessed by God (the 'pure, untainted' ones, that is.) It's like a mini- Paranormal Romance series with a heavy dose of Urban Fantasy all rolled into one book. With all the different heroes and heroines to choose from, everyone can easily find at least one to root for. I was worried once I realized it was several novellas; I was expecting a vague collection but this ties up all together tighter than a bow. I was really excited about the new ideas on vampires and shifters. There was just the perfect combination of romance, action, and sex. It got a little something for everyone! I find myself only giving it 4♥'s because of several common pitfalls; primarily the "sudden love" syndrome, but also the desire to learn more about Jackson Square and the "world" they live in. These did not in any way prevent me from really enjoying this book. I would still absolutely suggest this for any PNR fan. If you don't do novellas, I still recommend this book. It really is just one story broken into 5 parts. I'm still a little steamy under the collar from all the hot men....
  • Pandora's Key on June 28, 2012

    Read from June 15 to 16, 2012 This book did NOT end up like I expected at all. Not one bit- in a good way. Some of the characters REALLY pissed me off. It is a good sign that the writing draws me in so much, that I start talking back to the book, "Oh, no- Bestie did NOT just say that!" I was honestly ready to throw my Kindle around I was so ticked off. You don't know why to trust, how deep the rabbit hole goes. "Evangeline was feeling like Alice in Wonderland hurtling down the rabbit hole." "I do love you," he whispered, feeling unbearably sad. "But there's not enough love in the world to keep me from killing you if you stand in the way of my survival." Very unique story, I don't think I've read any before that focus on Pandora. Even the few stories I can think of that involve Gods (as in Greek/Roman: Zeus and the like)... usually they focus on the Gods themselves, or the 'demigods'. But it was an interesting take on the story. I'm still trying to decide why the story slightly deviated from the one I grew up with, where Pandora trapped Hope in her box. What a mind-f*&ck! Seriously, like a conspiracy theory nut's wet dream. "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck... they're part of this thing, too." I will definitely continue the series. Very vanilla, YA, young romance- do not read this book expecting serious hanky-panky action. "Raphe said I was beautiful and I believed him. I am such a pathetic cliche." If you enjoy YA, and PNR/Urban Fantasy with some dark undertones a 'everyone IS out to get me' feel to it- RUN, don't walk and get your own copy!
  • Sweet Blood of Mine on July 25, 2012

    For this review, I need my special pimp hat. *Alana pulls out a purple Fedora with a long striped feather* I. Loved. This. Book. This is a fast, fun read that left me aching for the sequel. Sweet Blood of Mine is fantastic for adults and young adults alike! Justin transforms before the reader's eyes; starting as a shy nerd needing a "Man-zier" to seducing every female (including the readers) into jelly at his feet. SBoM manages to remain innocent and romantic, but enough ‘action’ to steam your glasses. It's laugh out loud funny and I highly recommend it to ANYONE who enjoys paranormal romance/urban fantasy You simply MUST read this book. You may say, “But I don’t read YA.” SBoM is the YA that everyone should read, even those that don’t usually read YA. Take a chance, and I promise you will not be disappointed! SBoM rolls awkward teenage drama with supernatural shenanigans, adds a few ninja moves, and Princess Bride references (you know you love it). John Corwin adds such wit to this story; it keeps you laughing from the first sentence. Corwin’s writing style reminds me of the Dresden Files and Iron Druid Chronicles because of his laugh-out-loud humor that seems to captivate the reader. You’ll be drawn in by the humor and then the story will create a craving that can’t be satisfied until you’ve finished the last page. Overall, Sweet Blood of Mine is a hilarious, enthralling urban fantasy that will knock your knickers off and leave you quivering for more!
  • Life of the Party on Sep. 14, 2012

    I received this book for free from The Nexus ARR (Authors Requesting Reviews) program in exchange for a free review. Wow. I almost gave it 5♥'s, but there were times in the middle that dragged a little for me. I found myself rooting for Mac to finally hit her rock bottom (I was getting sick of her being the life of the party.) I nearly reached a point of just wanting to smack her and physically prevent her from her downward spiral and just hurry up and get it over with. But then she reach that low point... once that happened I was an absolute mess. Bawling my eyes out, wanting to say, "No, not like this! Not like this!" It's an emotional roller coaster that reveals the dark road of many forms of addiction. It really touched me and will stay with me for a long time. Light and fluffy, this is not. It's a long, dark path filled with (Not-so-much)Sex, Drugs, and Rock-N-Roll. I appreciated the 90's references and how they really struck a cord with how my life was in high school. I'm not sure if it was my past, or just the story itself that caused it to really strike a nerve within me. To give you an idea, it's almost like the book Beautiful Disaster meets the movie Trainspotting. And I have to admit I hate, nay loathe, that movie. This book was gut wrenching, pull your heart out, eyes spill with tears, and throat burn pilgrimage. The characters seemed well rounded enough to suck me in and touch my heart. Grey... oh, Grey. Oh, to be young again- young and free to make the stupidest life choices. I can remember some of my own, teenage thoughts mirroring Mac's. You have to see that dark to appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel. The ending... I can see it being the point of making or breaking the story for some. It was OK... but I really wish the epilogue had been about Mac's future. Specifics about the future. I know in life there are not guarantees, but in my books I'd really like to know after Mac's journey... that there was not just hope and faith, that she finally did reach and stick with her goals. I was left with an overall impression that she was, but would have loved to hear about it, rather than what the epilogue contained. That was also part of 4 rather than a 5 star rating. This is a slice of life that is more than worth the read but should not be taken casually.
  • Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale #1) on Nov. 08, 2012

    Thought I was going to 'fall' for one character, and ended up smitten with another. And boy, oh boy, was there eye candy to go around. This is the type of fae story I just love- getting swept up suddenly in fae (events, culture, people- anything and everything fae) involving equal amounts of good and bad. They may be all magical and powerful, but there is a dark edge even in some of the seemingly most innocent offers. I really, really enjoyed it. Younger readers can pick this up without being exposed to overly adult themes. It's like a dark fae story mixed with some old school Tolkien. Almost a Labyrinth feel to it (and I LOVE Labyrinth.) It was witty, and easy to follow, and easy to keep the menagerie of characters separate. "Illarial sure had a way with comforting others; she was like walking Xanax." "I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her boney, pointy body." "Nothing about Sylphi made her feel warm and fuzzy. The girl radiated cold like an open window." "It already had been a long day for her. And it's only the butt crack of dawn." I actually keep checking every few days since I finished wondering- if book two out yet? Sadly, it's not, at least the last time I checked. This is a YA book I would offer to my 12 year old son and read alongside him. If you like urban fantasy- but HEAVY on the fantasy, and enjoy YA I would most definitely recommend reading this book!