I am a disabled SAHM with Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, Aspergers, PTSD (and a *whole lot more*) with 3 wonderful sons who all fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. Photography, writing my blog and poetry, and reading and writing book reviews are my sanity. I read just about every genre available - fiction, non-fiction, biographies, memoirs, romance, erotica and everything in between. Beyond that, I take life as it comes, one second at a time. :-)
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Smashwords book reviews by Elizabeth Gorski
on Feb. 25, 2012
Five is a coming-into-her-own/paranormal romance novel written by Christie Rich. As Rayla Tate is just beginning to figure out who she is and what she may want out of life, she also finds that life and the fae may have alternate plans in store for her.
When I first began reading Five, I wasn’t a fan. Christie Rich was incredibly detailed and descriptive when giving the reader as much of the back story as possible, without giving away any plot twists and turns that may be in store later on. While those are typically both good things to have in a novel, they just seemed to make the first few chapters sluggish and slow-moving. However, I later found myself reflecting back on every “sluggish and slow-moving” detail as I read-on.
Once the momentum picked up, it kept up a steady and engaging pace throughout the rest of the book. I found myself hanging on every detail, every description…essentially, everything that had irked me in the beginning now had me hooked. Christie Rich’s characters are very relatable and emotionally well-developed. She also has an ability to describe a setting and make you feel as if you are actually there, right next to the characters. I found myself experiencing the emotional ups and downs right along with Rayla as her life unfolds before her.
In the end, I found that I didn’t want Five to end. In fact, I have to keep stopping myself from going back and checking the end of the book…just to make sure I didn’t miss anything or there wasn’t more to read that I somehow over-looked. Christie Rich has made a fan out of me. And I know where I’ll be, on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next “Christie Rich novel” to be released.
“Love should be the great leveler: The thing that obliterates all other emotions into the insignificant rubble they are.” Rayla Tate, Five, written by Christie Rich, Chapter Sixteen, page 170
(I was given this book to review.)
- Survival, a YA Paranormal Romance (The Guardians of Vesturon Series, Book #1)
on Feb. 28, 2012
Madeline “Maddy” Mariah Pearce has had a difficult life. Beginning with the loss of her mother at the age of 11 followed by the loss of her father her senior year of high school. Now, leading right up to the present, when an unknown man has her in his sights and is simply waiting for the perfect moment to strike. What Maddie doesn’t know, is that horrible tragedies can lead to wonderful, life altering experiences…If only you have the faith to take that chance, believe and perhaps learn to love again.
Survival, written by A.M. Hargrove, is a paranormal romance. At least, that’s how she has it classified. Truthfully, it probably belongs straddling the fine line between paranormal romance and suspense thriller, if such a line exists.
When I began reading Survival, it was unclear how it was classified as a paranormal romance. Eleven chapters in and I was nothing short of incredibly confused. There wasn’t a shred of paranormal anything to be found. There was, however, plenty of back story, flashbacks, point-of-view changing and suspense thriller action to leave me scratching my head and wondering if I had somehow chosen the wrong book from my bookshelf.
Back stories and flash backs can be wonderful tools. Especially flashbacks, they are a creative sort of way to tell…oh wait, they tell more back story. And therein lies one of my biggest issues, the back stories and the flash backs were repetitive. We already had the back story to explain Maddie’s past, why did we need to hear about her telling her roommates and having flash backs her first day of college? (Side note: Who does that anyway?)
The point-of-view changes were also more of the same. First, we experienced a situation through Maddie’s ‘eyes’. Then it was retold in third person through another character’s ‘eyes’. It was more of the same. It left me feeling like A.M. Hargrove knew she needed to write something there but she wasn’t sure what; so she went with what she (and the reader) already knew. Never mind the fact, that the POV changes were disconcerting until you got used to them.
Chapter Twelve, everything changed.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. When I reached Chapter Twelve and finally found out how it was a paranormal romance; I was shocked. Then I laughed. Of all the theories I had formulated in my head, I didn’t see this one coming. Looking back now, at the synopsis, I can see it. But when I initially read it, I didn’t get this vibe.
I have one final minor issue. Please stop using the phrase, “Shut up!” I know that people often have ‘catch phrases’, which we use far more than we probably should, however; for me, it’s one thing to hear it from a person on a regular basis and something else entirely to read it, a lot.
In the end, I gave Survival, by A.M. Hargrove, 2.5 ribbons/stars. I would have liked to give it more but there were just too many issues, however; it did capture my attention. I am now invested in the story. I need to know what happens to Maddie, no matter how I feel about Survival, which is the sign of a good author. That nagged at me for a while though.
Why if I didn’t care for the main story line, was I so invested? Why do I feel that A.M. Hargrove has a talent for this? Then it hit me. A.M. Hargrove is trying to fit into a mold, which is popular right now. Paranormal romances are all the rage since Twilight hit the scene. I think she has missed the mark and may very well miss her ‘calling’. The parts of Survival I enjoyed the most were the suspense thriller portions. She wrote those exceptionally well. She captured the emotions of everyone involved. She described things in perfect detail without repeating or back-tracking. It was engaging and everything a suspense thriller novel should be which left the paranormal romance portions of Survival lacking. I think if A.M. Hargrove were to try a different genre like the thriller suspense half of her book, she would be dead on and the novel would likely be a huge success.
(I was given this book to read and review.)
- Nordic Fairies (Novella series)
on March 12, 2012
Svala would do anything for the love of her life, Viggo. This is something that has held true for ages. But what will Svala do when confronted with the possibility that all that she holds true, may not be as it appears?
Nordic Fairies is a very brief 39 page novella written by Saga Berg. However, she handles the length of her novella and the future continuations in a rather unique manner. Berg suggests that if the reader enjoyed Nordic Fairies they simply follow her Facebook page. In doing so, the reader is then notified every time there is a sequel released. Allowing them to chat with fellow fans and keep apprised of updates all in the same spot.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nordic Fairies before I began. It truly takes a gifted author to weave a tale with enough depth – of both plot and characters alike – within the confines of 39 pages. I was cautiously optimistic and Saga Berg delivered on both fronts.
Berg’s main characters are well thought out. With plenty of depth, both in the present situation and in just enough back stories to help the reader fully connect with them without feeling like they are living in the past. She is incredibly descriptive, with an attention to detail that really helps to bring the characters and places alive.
When I had finished reading, Nordic Fairies, I found myself hungry for more of the story. The initial installment of the Nordic Fairies story is about as long as a chapter in a book, which leaves me curious as to how long the story in its entirety will be. No matter the length, I know I will be on the edge of my seat awaiting my Facebook message(s) informing me of each new addition.
- Resurrection, a YA Paranormal Romance (The Guardians of Vesturon Series, Book 2)
on March 17, 2012
For two star-crossed lovers, two soul mates Madeline “Maddie” Pearce and Rayn Yarrister life is looking pretty bleak. Rayn is imprisoned for breaking a scarred covenant of Vesturon and since he happens to be the first born son to the Vesturon’s leader, things really couldn’t look grimmer. That is until the remaining Yarrister children, with the help of Maddie, decide the time has come to fight for love, a new future and maybe a few changes to the old ways. Unbeknownst to them all, this is only the beginning and destiny has so much more in store.
After finishing Survival, written by A.M.Hargrove, even with all of its issues, bumps and blips along the way; I found myself invested, invested with Maddie Pearce and Rayn Yarrister, invested with as much of the Yarrister family that had been introduced thus far. I had fallen in love with Maddie’s quirks and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how she and Rayn would get past it all. But that’s just it, I wanted to know. So issues, blips, or bumps along the way or not, I picked up Resurrection and jumped right in.
I jumped right in and started reading and I found myself pleasantly surprised.
The reoccurring flashbacks that were and an issue in Survival? Gone. The Point-of-View jumping from character to character? That’s not entirely gone but it is handled in a much gentler manner. I can’t tell you how freeing it was to see, or not see for that matter, that these two major issues were gone like a bad dream. Without these two blips, speed bumps in the road if you will, it allows Resurrection to have the space it needs to open up – both in character depth and description of location and plot.
I won’t give away any spoilers, that’s not my style, but I will tell you this. I connected with the characters of Resurrection in a way that I wasn’t able to connect with them in Survival. It didn’t matter what type of emotionally charged situation any of them were going through, I felt as if I were there sharing that time with them. All of A.M.’s characters became a bit more 3-Dimensenial in Resurrection.
The characters weren’t the only thing to become more 3-Dimensenial. A.M.’s decsriptions of Vesturon were beautiful and detailed. I could feel Maddie’s reactions to Vesturon – the good, the bad, the indifferent. It was wonderful. It felt as if I were there with her; experiencing everything through her eyes and various, other senses for the first time.
My only qualm about the book is when the differences between how things are done one Earth and how things are done on Vesturon are explained. Rather than continuing on the journey and exploration that Maddie has already begun, it feels cold and mechanical. Almost as if A.M. was looking for a way in which to take up space and fill up time. So something that could have been very curious and full of wonder for both Maddie and the reader had turned cold and clinical.
That aside, I believe Resurrection to be a fantastic journey where many of the loose-ends from Survival are neatly tied up. And a few new ends are left dangling, leaving the reader to wonder, “Where will we go from here”?
(I received this book free from the author to read and review.)
- A Marked Past
on March 30, 2012
For Lyla Mercer, life couldn’t possibly get any better. She has a best friend and a boyfriend who love her and a newly secured spot on the Varsity Cheerleading Squad. Yup, life is darn near perfect. Until a freak, car accident murders her father on her “perfect day”. That one tragedy sets into motion a chain of events that Lyla never could have imagined. The question is, is she ready to accept all that she’s about to learn?
When I started to read A Marked Past, written by Leslie Deaton, I was immediately taken with how skillfully she was able to capture not only my attention but my emotions, as well. From the first sentence of chapter one, I was hooked. However, I wasn’t expecting such an emotional roller coaster ride right from the start. I found myself so wrapped up in the plot and the emotions of Lyla’s story that I actually had to put the novel aside for a few days and take a break because reading it was leaving me ‘emotionally raw’. (Yes, I can really be that big a sap.) Sappiness aside, I have never had a novel affect me that quickly.
The only issue I really had with A Marked Past were the frequent typo’s which occasionally made reading the novel a bit more difficult. However, they were honestly more of an annoyance and slightly unprofessional in appearance than anything else. And truly, in the grand scheme of all things novel related if that’s the only complaint I have (and it is!) then there isn’t much to worry about.
Typo’s aside, I was hooked and invested from line one; I couldn’t wait to sit down each night and read on to uncover more of Lyla’s story. While parts of the plot were fairly easy for me to figure out before they were revealed; there were still plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing and on my toes.
I found it to be a quick read. The slower a novel is, the more likely it is to lose my interest and A Marked Past was the perfect speed for me. The plot kept moving pretty quickly only slowing down in a few spots and even in the ‘slow spots’ the story held relevant information concerning plot line or characterization.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed A Marked Past. I know I’ll reread it again in the future, probably numerous times, which I often do with novels I particularly enjoy. I’m already anxious for the next book, A History Renewed: Book Two of The Mercer Legacy, so I can see how the next ‘chapter’ of Lyla’s life unfolds.
If you are a fan of the House of Night series, written by P.C. & Kristin Cast, A Marked Past (The Mercer Legacy) is a good match. Especially if you found the House of Night series to be a bit more ‘R’ than ‘YA’, A Marked Past is definitely a good place to start.
I received a free copy of A Marked Past, written by Leslie Deaton, to read and review.
- Dangerous (Element Preservers Series, Book 1)
on April 22, 2012
I received this novel free from the author to read and give an honest review.
When I first started reading Dangerous, Book One of the Elemental Preservers Series, written by Alycia Linwood, I really wanted to like it. The plot idea was original and intriguing and I was excited to have the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately, my desires and expectations were way off the mark on this one.
Ms. Linwood has the potential to make this a good series. About two-thirds of the way through the novel, the plot finally began to smooth out and become the outstanding novel I knew it could be. Prior to that point, it was a roller coaster of inconsistent writing and too little show vs tell.
For the first two-thirds of the novel, I really wanted to like it. I wanted to be able to write a glowing review. What I got, was a novel set in a high school/junior college, which felt like it was a repeat of high school for me. It was drawn out, tired and just painful at times with cursing, frequent excessive drinking, which of course led to getting drunk. All of these things came together to create a novel that was juvenile and felt forced.
Now Dangerous had its share of issues, I’m not denying that; however, there are positives as well.
The main characters are very likable and easy to relate to. Ria is up-tight, slightly boy-crazy with her priorities in the right order – friends, boys, studies. Her best friend, Paula, is Ria’s polar opposite in every way. Paula is studious, easy going, and while she does set her sights on one boy, she will never be mistaken for a boy-crazy teenager. The only thing I wish I had more of where the characters are concerned was background. I wish I knew more about them – where they came from, what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them tick (besides boys or studying). As much as I liked the characters and could relate to them, I also felt as if I hardly knew them.
Then for that final third of Dangerous, I simply couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t find enough time to read. I wanted more! It felt like Ms. Linwood had finally found her voice and knew exactly what she wanted to say. The dialog became more natural and flowed easily with the context of the novel itself. As if someone had flipped a switch, the novel suddenly clicked. It all came together. In my opinion, the final third of the novel is what saves it from mediocrity. If not for that magical piece (pardon the magic pun), the novel would have been a shell of what it could have been.
As for the sequels, I’ll likely read the next one for a few reasons. First, I want to see where she takes things from here. Most importantly, I’ll read the second novel to see if Ms. Linwood manages to maintain the momentum she found in the end of Dangerous and carry it over into Book Two. If she can carry it over, there is hope for the series. If she loses it, I likely won’t read past Book Two.
If you are looking for a paranormal novel with magic, witches, wizards and all other things magical, then I would suggest you check out the Harry Potter series, if you haven’t read them already. Also if you are an older teen or a young adult (early twenties), then you might enjoy the House of Night series by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast. It’s also about magic but it tends to have some rather intense situations that aren’t really appropriate for teenagers or younger teenagers. Overall, it’s a fantastic series and I highly recommend it.
- Deadly Addiction (Deadly Vices, Book 2)
on May 09, 2012
Deadly Addiction, written by Kristine Cayne, is an outstanding novel earning a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Before reading Cayne’s Deadly Vices series, I had never read an actual romantic thriller/mystery. I had read plenty of romances with a slight plot twist to keep things interesting and keep the novel from revolving around love, sex, and “soul mates”. Never have I read romance novels written with the talent and skill that Cayne possesses.
First off, I need to say that the characters are brilliant. Cayne gives the opportunity to get to know the characters through many different sets of eyes, as the story is told through many different viewpoints. Typically, this isn’t something I am a fan of; however, she pulls it off without creating confusion.
Each character is unique and has many different layers, creating believable individuals who stir the most basic of human emotions. Rémi Whitedeer and Alyssa Morgan were by far my favorite characters. I loved them individually – their struggles and inner-demons, as well as their triumphs and compassion. I also love the way the two played off each other.
The way that Cayne told each character’s back-story a little bit at a time, rather than all at once in the beginning of the novel or upon introduction was a refreshing change. It left a slight air of mystery about the characters and helped them to feel more life-like.
The final aspect of Deadly Addiction that I want to mention is, honestly, just how addicting this novel is! Much like it’s predecessor (which I was thrilled to find Addiction wasn’t a literal sequel to Obsession), Addiction is a fast paced, romance and action packed novel; however, not to the point of being over-whelming. It’s attention grabbing and once it has your attention it doesn’t let go until the final pages. While the action and suspense is definitely there and there are your standard lulls in the adrenaline and the romance also helps to break up the thrill seeking, adrenaline-rushing. These lulls help the novel to find that perfect medium between “nail-biting suspense/mystery” and “sappy sex-driven romance” novel. What you find in the end, is sheer perfection and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it until the next novel comes out.