Jennifer McDonald

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Jennifer McDonald

  • Beautiful Demons (Peachville High Demons, #1) on April 15, 2011
    (no rating)
    I won this book from a blog give away. I had read a review of the book on the blog and also on Amazon.com. I read this book in one setting and was enthralled with the storyline/characters. I love Harper. She is a wonderful female character that doesn't have self pity for her situation. Jackson is my new book character crush. I read this book and then quickly had to get the other two to read more about Jackson. Harper is a teenage girl who has been from one foster home to another. She has abilities that she is not sure where they come from and others don't understand them until she moves to Peachville. Once there things start to move along for Harper and she is learning about herself and her family a little at a time. She doesn't take things at face value and is a strong character. She is not about to let others decide things for her she has a great inner strength. I love the way she interacts with Jackson. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a moment of escape. I got lost in this book and its 2 sequels for an entire weekend.
  • Werelove #1: Dusk Conspiracy on June 13, 2011

    Book 1 really is about laying the foundation to the series. Lakisha Spletzer has written a solid book that has set the series perfectly. Making sure that the reader understands the book completely, the author provides background information at the end of the book. The story is set in the future where the characters are either human or were. There are many weres on this canvas from wolves, bears, and rhinos to felines. Laylah Le Croix lives her life surrounded by secrets. Events are happening around her that she does not understand. Laylah doesn’t know that she is were or that her father is an alpha were. She was raised human per her father’s demands. Her father has kept her clueless by making sure she gets a dose of a drug twice a week that keeps her inner were from manifesting. When a group of weres try to kidnap her she doesn’t understand why she is being targeted. She is a target for attack because of who she is, the daughter of Henry Le Croix and Helena Le Croix. Henry made enemies when he married Helena. He is a wolf and she is a panther. Because of their union and the fact that Henry is a geneticist has one alpha female set on revenge. Zina tried before to bring Henry down. She killed his wife Helena but was unable to get Laylah. Now she is back and has her sites set on taking Laylah. Zina is one who doesn’t give up. She will stop at nothing to gain her prey, Laylah. I like books that have great characters. This book did not disappoint me. To me a great character is one that makes you feel something whether it be good or bad. The characters in this story had me feeling all kinds of emotions. I liked Laylah for the most part but I hated that she was so beaten down emotionally. I understand that she didn’t know her true identity and her father was overbearing but she never stuck up for herself and when she did she backed down too easily. She has a great support in her friend Britta. Britta was sassy and kept reminding Laylah to find her inner strength and stand her ground. Laylah formed a bond with Donil, an alpha panther. Of course, she doesn’t know that he is a were. Donil’s goal is to ease Laylah into trusting him and then tell her about being a were. He believes that Laylah is his true mate. I had a problem with Henry Le Croix, Laylah’s father. He is just too much. He doesn’t love his daughter and places all these demands on her to be obedient. He neglects her and leaves her in the care of his staff. Since Laylah doesn’t know that she is a were and is surrounded by weres she doesn’t understand that alphas are obeyed no matter what. She just wants her father’s love. He is so busy working on the next great scientific discovery that will bring him more money and power. Jacques is the one assigned to Laylah as a guardian. In his inner thoughts we see his struggle to obey his alpha. He doesn’t like the way Laylah is treated but does nothing to help her. He sometimes treats her just like her father does. The story had a lot of action. I liked that the story had an element of romance between Laylah and Donil but it didn’t over power the story. The story was more focused on the were aspect. Each character had a stake in the outcome of the story which leads nicely into the second book. Different characters with their own agendas made for a very interesting plot.
  • Werelove #2: Midnight Revelations on June 13, 2011

    Henry Le Croix is a man who demands obedience. He doesn’t care what others want. He only cares about his wants and what he wants is for his daughter to not put a wrinkle in his plan. Laylah has four months of school left then she graduates. She sees freedom in her future. A future of college and Donil but her father has plans for her future that he hasn’t shared with her. Her father has signed a contract with his business partner alpha Yon that will keep Laylah from fulfilling her dreams. She is once again placed at the mercy of her father’s will and he isn’t having any arguments. She is basically trapped. Now the rush is on to save her from the future her father has planned for her. Is there any hope for her? The time is running out and everyone has choices to make. Donil has to choose between alpha duties and saving Laylah. Jacques has to choose between following his alpha or conscience. Stefan has to choose between staying on the sidelines or rushing in. Laylah’s happiness depends on everyone elses choices. She has no choice. I went right into the second book after finishing the first. This book finds Laylah asserting herself a little bit more. Henry has a plan in place that he is not being up front about. Donil is not living up to my expectations. Jacques is making me question whether he really has Laylah’s best interests. Britta is still the constant friend who never wavers in her support of Laylah. A character who came on the canvas in the first book but was not a big player is now taking up some major story line. Laylah’s grandmere comes for a visit and Laylah does not benefit from it. The bully, Violet, has a new role and is still just as mean. The council is turning out to be ruthless. Stefan keeps tabs on Laylah from a distant but by the end he is forced to take action to help Laylah. I had a lot of hope for this second book. The story had me turning the pages all afternoon until I reached the last word. My only disappointment is that it ended without giving me the outcome to a very intense event. Book 3 will have to come soon because I am dying to find out what happened. I liked that the story kept moving along with twists and turns that had me questioning everyone’s motives. I thought that Laylah’s life would get a little better because she seemed to have a lot of questions from her ordeal in the first book. I was disappointed that she really didn’t do that much to find the answers to her questions. It wasn’t until nearly the end of this book that she is blind sided with the information that she is a were and so are most of the people she knows. Her father is more diabolical than the first book let on. The layer of physical abuse is added to the emotional abuse that Laylah already suffers at the hand of her father. That was a little hard to read. The good thing about Laylah in this story is she is starting to be more assertive. This is due partly to one of her guardians not giving her the serum that keeps her were side under control. We finally see this passionate, confident side to Laylah but it only scratches the surface. Every time Laylah tried to assert herself her father squashed it like a bug. I was a little bit disappointed in Donil. He is supposed to be alpha which in my mind means confidence. Twice he neglects Laylah because his pride took a hit for not being able to protect Laylah. Donil loves her but he treats her like a precious breakable thing. He kind of helps keep her from coming out of her shell all the while saying that he wants to help build her confidence.
  • Seranfyll on June 14, 2011

    Seranfyll is an enchanting story that welcomes the reader into its world. The characters are delightful. Rain is a former slave who finds her life changed by the quirky Lord Domrey Seranfyll. Many think of him as a devil but he really is just a charming, magical, lonely soul. Coal is a former slave who completes the little made up family of Seranfyll. The story is whimsical with a hint of danger. The setting is not easy to identify but I believe that it was intended to be timeless. Seranfyll is labeled for readers 10 years old and older. I am in no way a 10 year old but I found this story to be endearing. I was reminded of some of my favorite magical moments like Mary Poppins, Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and the talking objects in Beauty and the Beast. Domrey Seranfyll seems strange to the people who don’t know him. Young ladies find him handsome and other people think he is a devil. As Rain gets to know Lord Seranfyll so does the reader. His house is enchanted which exposes Rain and Coal to some amazing things that they had never seen before. I love the depth that the author gave to this character. At first he seems to be a drunk although loveable. Then a little deeper we see that he is generous and honest. I loved this character. He could be both comical and serious. Rain was a great female character. As a slave she wasn’t given choices. When she is given her name papers she decides to stay with Lord Seranfyll. At first she feels sorry for this lonely person but then their relationship changes to one of trust and family. Coal is the one who holds out the longest with sharing his affection with Lord Seranfyll and Rain. His time as a slave was quite different than Rain. Rain was treated well by her former master. Coal was not so lucky so he doesn’t accept the generosity and affections of others. He takes his time when it comes to trust. The story itself has many aspects. The main story is about Rain’s journey from being a slave to becoming part of a family unit as a free person. When she was sold she left behind a sister, Snow. Snow plays into a page turning part of the story where Rain has to choose between her love for her sister or betraying Domrey’s trust. There is also the issue of slavery. It is a huge part of the storyline. In Yoan slavery is acceptable but not everyone agrees with it. This issue alone adds to the conflicts in the story. This is a story of love, acceptance, family, trust, honor, and so much more. Christina Daley has created something wonderful. Seranfyll charmed its way into my heart with endearing characters, fantastical storytelling, and varied themes.
  • In Dreams on Oct. 17, 2011
    (no rating)
    Katherine is a California girl who goes to college on the east coast. Katherine is in love with a great guy. Two great guys, actually. So what’s the problem? One exists only in her dreams and the other one is the star hockey player, Cooper Donovan. Cooper is falling in love with Katherine but she can’t get dream guy out of her mind long enough to enjoy the life she leads while she is awake. She has a great roommate/friend, Taylor. During Thanksgiving break Katherine goes home with Taylor. It is during this time that Katherine puts a name to the face she only sees in her dreams. It is Taylor’s dead brother, Austin, which Katherine has been dreaming of. This story offers up an impossible love triangle. Katherine must choose between her dreams and her reality. What I liked: I liked the concept of this story. This story offers up a legitimate “dream guy”. The author wrote both love interests with such depth that I found myself rooting for Cooper and feeling bad for him at the same time. I could feel how torn Katherine was between her dream guy and Cooper. She had intense feelings for both of them. J. Sterling’s writing grabbed a hold of my emotions from the get go and didn’t let go until the end. The detail which the author wrote the feelings and emotions of her characters was fantastic. Outside of this love triangle was a true friendship between Taylor and Katherine. Katherine was a fun character. She had a great personality and was sometimes the voice of reason for Katherine. What I didn’t like: I didn’t quite buy into the explanation of why Katherine dreamt of Austin. Austin did a lot of explaining on how he and Katherine were soul mates but it just seemed off to me. It left me confused in some instances. I just kind of put that to the back of my mind and kept reading. Overall I liked this story. The author has great writing ability being able to draw so much emotion from the reader. I connected to the characters and that is just great reading in my book. I recommend this book to all lovers of romance.
  • Timeless Trilogy, Book One: Fate on Oct. 17, 2011
    (no rating)
    Kris has two great friends in Roni and Grace. She lives in a beach house with her cat Pegasus. Her job is going great and an old flame moves into the empty beach house next door. Can everything really be this good? Maybe not. Kris is a precognitive. So when she starts having disturbing dreams she can’t get past the feeling that something just isn’t right. Kris finds out that she should always trust her feelings. Her feelings for her old flame Nick are being rekindled just as someone unexpected sets their sights on her. Kris discovers that she is the latest obsession of a stalker/serial killer. Can her visions help her in time or will Nick lose her a second time? I loved this fabulous story. This book was a page turner that hooked me from page one. There was just the right amount of suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat. Tallulah Grace wrote some good characters that I want to continue to read about. Now that the story of Kris is complete I can’t wait to read Roni and Grace’s stories. They are sure to be just a wonderful as this one was. I am sold and think everyone should buy into these stories. The Timeless Trilogy is sure to please all.
  • Fall on Oct. 17, 2011
    (no rating)
    JD is a woman of strength. She is determined to make it in her grandfather’s construction company on her own merits. When she finally gets her big break at managing a construction site on her own she jumps at the chance with gusto. Even though JD is one smart cookie she falls for one of the contractors she has hired to do demolition on the project. He is everything she likes but he has one little secret that will cost JD more than she knows. Then there is Nathan. Someone who shares a connection with JD even though she doesn’t understand it. Everything starts to unravel as JD learns a few things about her life. I liked the story for many reasons. I love characters and JD (Julia) was a great character. She had a self awareness that made her want to prove herself. She tried to portray strength to the people around her but in her inner thoughts there was a vulnerability that made her seem more real. I liked that she turned to a milkshake at one point to get a little perspective. That moment made her someone I could connect with. I liked the aspect of angles/fallen angels. I’m not going to say any more about that but it added to my enjoyment of this story. What I didn’t like: Even though the author does give some background to the connection between Nathan and Julia (JD) it is incomplete. I still found that I had questions and felt like I wasn’t getting the complete story between these two. Overall Fall is a great read. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy a bit of the paranormal/romance/action cocktail.
  • Water on Jan. 29, 2012

    This story was a slow start for me. It felt like I was coming in to the middle of a story and I needed to catch up. I spent quite some time trying to figure out what was going on and I ended up putting the book aside for a few days. I kept coming back to it to read some more in hopes that I would get into it. It took me 23 days to read this book but I didn’t give up and now that I am finished I am glad that I didn’t give up on it. This book had a ton of action and well developed characters. The characters were one of the reasons I did not give up on this book. Kaitlyn was thrown into a situation that she didn’t ask for and answers to her questions were vague. She was kept in the dark about where she was and what was going on so I felt a kindred spirit because I felt the same way reading the beginning of the book. Her frustrations were my frustrations. I couldn’t let her down. Kaitlyn had strength and a sarcasm that I found refreshing. She didn’t give up and neither did I. I liked Micah but felt like there was more to him. I felt like I got surface details but I wanted to know him more. Shawn was just a hateful person and I didn’t like him one bit. Alex was one that I want to see more of. He is like a brother and his presence eases the tension between others. The writing wasn’t what hindered my reading experience. I just wasn’t sure where it was going and it took me some time to figure it out. The author wrote the story from Kaitlyn’s point of view so the reader learns details at the same pace as Kaitlyn. The story started with an avalanche on a slope and the action continued from there. It seemed that there was always something going on. The story was driven by an organization called the Seven, an organization that protects earth. The elements of water, earth, fire, and wind were all represented. The subtle way the conservation of Earth’s resources was interspersed in the story was excellently written. She handled the intense, sometimes uncomfortable, situations with enough information that the reader got the idea without explicit details. About halfway into the book I was hooked and enjoyed reading it all the way up to the end. I didn’t have all my questions answered and the ending was a surprise. Hopefully the second book, Air, will answer some of those lingering questions. I am interested to see how the characters develop into the next book. The characters are what saved this book from the “unread book graveyard”. Take a chance, get passed the first part of the book and then you will be rewarded with a great story.
  • Barbie Girl on Feb. 15, 2013

    Barbie Girl breathes fresh air into the world of YA books. The book offers up a great story with some great characters. Barbie is an amazing character that you just love. At first I was trying to figure her out. I guess I was just like the characters in the book trying to pigeon hole her into a category. Was she the bad girl? Was she crazy? Was she an attention seeker? Page after page I was entranced with her character. She’s a walking contradiction. The rumors around the school were that she was a slut, got high, partied, etc. As the story unfolded there were glimpses of someone totally different than the image that was everyone’s perception of Barbie. I started to realize that she was a unique person. Her home life is less than stellar. The only thing that keeps her going is taking care of her autistic little brother. One thing I didn’t really care for was what she does to numb her feelings. I just couldn’t get it to add up. It also bugged me that she just brushed off the rumors about her. She didn’t try to defend herself or set the record straight. She had the attitude of “I don’t care what others think of me.” I can kind of get it. She had far bigger problems to worry about than her reputation. It just seemed to me that she hid behind those rumors so no one would see the real Barbie that deals with some bad stuff. Dylan was the male lead and he just kind of turned me off in the beginning. He comes across as haughty and judgmental. He purposely stays away from social events, not wanting to draw attention to himself. His background included being bullied as a kid so he did a transformation so he would be left alone in high school but is content to just blend. What annoyed me most about him was that when Barbie seeks him out for help in math he is a total jerk to her. He believes all the rumors about her. He is judgmental and mean to her. He doesn’t like anything that draws attention to him and having Barbie around definitely draws attention. Even when he starts to develop feelings for Barbie he lets his beliefs about who Barbie is get in the way of what could be an amazing relationship. The story has so many layers of awesome. I liked the budding romance of Dylan (the geek) and Barbie (the bad girl) until Dylan was a jerk. But he redeemed himself toward the end of the book. The friendships that develop between Third, Barbie, and Roxie are the stuff that BFFs are made of. Barbie’s fierce loyalty to her brother is awe inspiring. She just really is a fantastic character. I like when things are not wrapped up in a tidy little package tied with pink ribbon. I think the way this book ended was fitting for the tone of the book. It was beautiful and sad. Alas, I still have hope for a happy ever after. Barbie and Dylan are not done because there is a second book. I recommend this book for all those who love budding romance and root for the underdog. Those who want to protect the ones who are considered outcasts. Those who love to see strength where there is weakness. This book is the one you want to get.