Librarian, Book Reviewer, and Book Blogger. I do reviews for Romance Reviews Today, as well as my own blog - reviewing for various authors and publishers. I read and review mostly romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy/sci fi, but I'm a fiction-lover in general. If you're interested in contacting me for a review, feel free to email me at email@example.com with "Review Request" in the title.
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Smashwords book reviews by Amanda Toth
- Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
on Sep. 07, 2010
When browsing both of this author's pieces, I was instantly drawn to "Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble." This book follows the tale of Jolie, who isn't supermodel gorgeous, just a normal girl who occasionally gets visions. And then on a job for a client, she discovers she's able to bring back the dead - not as zombies, but as their former selves. It's quite the talent to have, and in today's war-fearing Underworld, it's much in demand. I love stories where our hero or heroine is tossed into a situation that is totally new and frightening for them, and they have to fight their way through it. This new world is something Jolie just can't hide away from, but she learns to deal with it. Of course, she has a little help from her friends...
Speaking of friends, we'll start with one of the secondary characters, Christa. She was definitely good for some laughs, but she had some genuine good-friend moments, which was good to see. When in a situation as tough as the one Jolie was in, a good friend like Christa will come in handy. And then there's Rand. So stubborn, so delicious, argh! Rand was so frustrating and reliable at the same time. There were scenes I wanted to strangle him, others I wanted snuggle him... and then there were a few times I wanted to do both at once.
One thing that really struck me about H.P. Mallory was how human her characters seemed. Well.. maybe that's not the correct term. She described the flaws and traits of each main and secondary character so well, you felt like you knew them. The author added little motions a character might make when aggravated, or sounds they might make when annoyed and amused. Just little things that could just as well be easily over-looked, and in the grand scheme of things might not even be important, but I loved getting that little glimpse of each character's life.
There are plenty of twists and turns in "Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble." Jolie has a lot to deal with, and a lot to learn. I was so engrossed in the main characters journey that I read the entire book in one day - I just couldn't put it down. Good thing this book is a series, Jolie's trials are far from over, and there's an even rougher road ahead.
I'm going to give "Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble" by H.P. Mallory a FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). It was a great read, and it left me wanting.. or rather NEEDING more. I can't wait to see how this great war that has been building throughout this first novel turns out, as well as how Jolie deals with all the different players in her life. Make sure you all check out this book, as well as her other release (as of right now) "To Kill A Warlock."
- The Ghost Hunter
on Oct. 03, 2010
The Ghost Hunter" by Lori Brighton is a very interesting story with an equally interesting cast of characters. There's a girl who sees ghosts (Ashley), witches, faeries, angels, werewolves, vampires, demons, and more. And indeed, the final showdown is between a demon and an angel, which is always an epic battle the whole family will enjoy - as long as they are over the age of 17, because no kids are invited to this party. And speaking of interesting types of characters.. there was an appropriate amount of buildup to the reader finding out what Cristian really is, but once that's revealed.. it seems like sort of a let down. Like with all that build up, I was expecting more of a reaction from those not in-the-know, but it seemed to me that they moved on a little too quickly. Same with the disappearance of ghosts. Oh sure, Ashley is bothered by it when she's reminded of it, but it's not something that really bugs her, though we get the feeling it should be. And in fact, there was a time or two I forgot about the disappearance of ghosts all together.
As for the characters themselves, I loved Devon. Dearest Devon is mostly a side-character (or at least not a main character), but I thought he was danged important.. especially near the end. Poor Devon gets quite the shock when a memory spell goes awry, and to top that off, he's got a demon parasite that is making him do some really jerky things. It was certainly interesting to see how each of these changes affected his character and his actions. And there was a time or two I actually liked Devon more than Cristian. Cristian seemed a little heavy-handed sometimes, he would intentionally keep things from Ashley, answers she was obviously searching for, and yet he was shocked and often amazed by how little she knew. Uh, duuhhh, maybe because you won't tell her anything! And he would switch from wanting to teach her how to protect herself, to saying how she wasn't going to make it because she didn't know anything. Maybe you should stop huffing about and do something about it then! You and your wing tattoos and sexy accent should pick up your awesome sword (I kinda want one that's able to do what his can) and do something about it!
And sadly, I didn't really feel that spark between Cristian and Ashley. There was something there, obviously, but it felt like lust at best, not the supposed deep, lasting connection they kept making it seem like it was. It just didn't feel.. real enough to me, somehow. I wanted to delve further into the characters, and pick them apart, to find this connection and see if it was real, and if it worked. Which may sound awful, but I don't mean it to be harsh, in fact, it's probably a good thing that I want to reach further into each character and learn more about them.
And now to the rating. "The Ghost Hunter" by Lori Brighton really was a good, quick read. There was a very interesting storyline there, I just needed more than what I was given, I needed to feel more. I had some mixed feelings about this book, so I'll have to go with a middle-of-the-road rating - a FOUR out of FIVE (4/5). The good did outweigh any issues I had with it, and this book was something I could easily sit for hours and read, as opposed to feeling the need to get up and move around between chapters. I hope to see more by this author in the future, to see how her work develops because I can see a ton of talent here.
- Toil and Trouble
on Feb. 27, 2011
Jolie Wilkins is preparing for war. Or she would be if she could move, and if her boss-slash-boyfriend Rand would let her. While she rests to regain her strength, Rand and his army train for the upcoming battle. But after being attacked in her own room, and then saved thanks to the vampire Sinjin, Jolie is perfectly healed and begins to plan her own way to join in on the fight. Filled with plenty of action and even more drama, Toil and Trouble is the tale of a woman who just wants to get her own fight on, no matter what the boys say.
My Review: Toil and Trouble is the second book in the Jolie Wilkins series, follwing Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, and certainly doesn't let up on the action. Most of the book takes place on the training ground, where Rand's forces practice their technique in the hopes that they might actually be able to defeat their enemy, Bella. I am always a fan of big training and battle scenes, because you can feel the desperation and hope of the characters. This book is certainly chock full of emotional rides, from the frustration of Jolie in being told she is not allowed to participate, as well as her anger for Rand for holding himself back from her, to the fear the characters and audience feel when the opposing side lists their demands should they win the war. Jolie is frightened of being made into someone's pet to use as they will, and I felt that right along with her.
My biggest upset with the book was with the battle itself. After all the build up, the talk of how much training everyone went through, including Jolie - even if it was in secret, the end of the battle was so shockingly abrupt. It wasn't a terrible ending, mind you, just a little startling. That said, it was still a very good resolution to the conflict, and after finishing the book, I eagerly anticipate the release of the third.
And I won't go into details so as to prevent spoilers, but readers finally get to see details about who Rand bonded with in the past that nearly killed him - and it's pretty dang heart breaking! Now I definitely need book three to see how Rand and Jolie deal with this new bit of information!
Fans of paranormal romance should definitely check out author HP Mallory, if you haven't already! I love her Jolie Wilkins series - Rand is more than yummy!
- Credo's Hope
on March 05, 2011
I will gladly shout from the rooftops about how much I enjoyed this book. From page one I was interested in the story and the characters, and couldn't wait to read more. Wolfe was smart and bold, and felt incredibly genuine. Perfect reactions, I'd say she was one of the best, real feeling characters I've read in, well.. maybe ever. I was struck by how accurate Wolfe's police career was portrayed, only to find out the author not only works on the police force, but also offers tips on her blog for authors that want to write accurate police characters. For readers who enjoy comparing characters and book series, I found some similarities between Wolfe and Stephanie Plum, though Stephanie relies almost entirely on luck, and Wolfe has the brains and the guts to solve the case.
I loved the plot, and the mystery was well thought out, with just enough little hints along the way so the ending was a pleasant surprise (I never expected that one!), but not a huge, out-of-left-field kind of shock. My favorite part? When Wolfe's supervisor, Kate, assigned Wolfe to on-call duty as "punishment" for going against her orders. Talk about some great revenge! But you'll just have to read it and find out why. The only issue that made me stumble when reading "Credo's Hope" was the abundance of side characters. While they weren't technically all necessary, they did add a lot to the story, and I was grateful for their presence. There was an occasion or two where a name was mentioned and I forgot who that was, but generally the context was enough for me to pick it up right away.
Recommendation: Definitely recommended! Fans of Procedural/Police fiction and Mysteries will absolutely love "Credo's Hope." I'm not a huge mystery person (just an occasional fan) but this book had me hooked from page one, literally.
Final Rating: FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). Definitely a winning book. The story and characters felt so incredibly real and genuine. Excellent novel, definitely a series and author to watch!
- Credo's Legacy
on June 10, 2011
Occasionally, the second book in a series doesn't even come close to the first - this is definitely not one of those books. "Credo's Legacy" packs just as much punch as "Credo's Hope," maybe even more so! I'm not much of a suspense junkie, but I decided to give this series a chance because hey, we all need something different now and again, and I have never regretted picking up this book. Alex is still the tough chick, passionate about her work and finding the truth in every situation, no matter how much trouble she gets into because of it. And boy does she get into a lot of trouble.
While it is the story that keeps me reading, it's the characters that draw me in, in the first place. And the Alex Wolfe series boasts a menagerie of excellent characters, and equally wonderful character interaction. There are no extra, useless scenes. Even in the moments when it seems like Alex is just having fun with her friends, she's using them to help sort through a few extra details in the case, or they're helping her solve a problem in her life. Alex's friends and coworkers help with the pacing of the book, as well as add in a light element. Alex Wolfe's life can be dark and gritty, especially working on the cases she does, but time spent with her friends gives the reader a few bright moments in the dark.
This story had me hooked from page one. And even better than that, it had me guessing until the very last page. The mystery played its part, I didn't know why the villain characters did what they did, and I had to keep reading to find out. I cared about Alex, Shelley, Gia, and more. The ending was definitely a good one, I felt like I needed so much more. I had to know Alex and the crew would get their happy endings, that even though some of these characters suffered so badly, things would be all sunshine and puppy dogs. I guess I'll just have to tune in for the next book - I hope there will be a next book!
Cover Loving: Good cover. The fiery-ness of it really suits Alex's personality and drive in this novel. And the vague heart shape is perfect, considering Alex's huge heart. Gruff personality sometimes, but huge heart.
Recommendation: Definitely check out "Credo's Legacy," and it's predecessor, "Credo's Hope." I loved both of these, and they really are excellent mystery/suspense novels. There is just so much I love about these books.
Final Rating: FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). Another excellent Alex Wolfe book by Alison Holt. I really love this series, be sure to pick up your copy of "Credo's Hope" and "Credo's Legacy!"