Blood Lust (Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy: Preternaturals Book 1)
on March 25, 2011
The first one, Kept, has maybe the most interesting setting of the three, introducing therians (were animals, so not just cats and wolves, which would’ve been a bit awkward) to us and mixing it with sorcery. The protagonist Greta is a werecat – really, the house-cat cat, and as it’s told to us in the blurb she has a grim future unless she does something: “…whose tribe plans to sacrifice her during the next full moon. Her only hope for survival is Dayne, a sorcerer who once massacred most of the tribe.”
Kept had a lot of weaknesses in the beginning of the novella, mainly because it introduced such new concepts to the paranormal world, that when things weren’t properly explained when they were introduced, you already had imagined something of your own to fill the blanks, until they were told to be actually something very different. One example being this werecat thing. I seriously couldn’t first believe it was a normal cat, so I pictured a panther, until this was shattered a bit further down the story. Also I thought it was just a normal city, until it was made clear there’s a wall going around it.
Even though Kept has the most intriguing story of the three, it’s also the weakest one. The flow isn’t quite right – hard to explain really, but some of the things go too slow and then the things you expect to be major and written more about, are over so fast you don’t quite comprehend it even. This is an issue also in Claimed, the second novella in the book.
Claimed goes a bit more into the love child of all paranormal writers, vampires. However I do love the fact, that for once the protagonist female, Charlee, doesn’t want to be one, it’s quite refreshing and her attitude towards vampires and the life they lead seems a bit more healthy than what you usually see in these kind of stories.
I liked the beginning and middle of the novella more than I liked the ending. Not to be misunderstood: I loved the choice Charlee made, but the writing in the end just wasn’t as good. I guess the tournament was a hard one to write, but it felt very rushed for me. Especially the first round left me disappointed, since there was so much that could’ve been done with it.
Compared to Kept it was better with the storytelling, but lost a bit in the originality and the rushed end.
In the third novella, Mated, Winters binds together some lose ends from the first story and I think it actually makes up for some of the bad things in Kept. On the other hand it takes some of the good feelings from Claimed away without really explaining why. Ok, it was shortly given some explanation to Paul’s behavior, but it seemed so out of character compared to what he was like in claimed. Also the relationship between Charlee and Anthony doesn’t seem that deep anymore, and that makes me feel a bit sad about them.
The female lead, Jane though is very much as she was in Claimed and the transition to tell her tale was very smooth. And I like how Winters shifted the view of werewolves very naturally without breaking the world introduced in the previous novellas.
Having already read the blurb for the next part of the series it’s clear some of the stuff in Mated are there to lay some groundwork for Save My Soul, but it’s not forcibly added, but seems like genuine and meaningful part of the story. That might be the thing I like most about these stories: when you come to the end of the story, you still get the same feeling about being in the same world, and characters are not forgotten, even though some might have changed.
Anyway, I consider Mated to be the best one of the three stories in Blood Lust, with very fluid writing and Winters not being afraid to get her characters to do hard choices. She makes them more real, and not all goody goodies. Also mated doesn’t have that rushed feeling in any part of it.
One thing that did bother me a bit, was that all of the three woman protagonist were mostly presented as victims who needed to be saved by a man. Then again the stories would’ve been very different if that wasn’t the case.
For all you who like to read paranormal stories, I full-heartedly recommend these into your to-be-read pile.
Hush Money (Talent Chronicles)
on March 27, 2011
Think about Heroes goes high school and you got a pretty good image what the book is like.
The story shifts telling the story from both Joss’s and Dylan’s point of view.
Jocelyn, Joss, is a young girl trying to live her life not getting noticed, since if someone would discover she has a Talent, she would be transfered to a prison like state school – it’s made pretty clear, that it’s anything but pleasant there.
Making the loneliness a life style choice Joss tries to stay out of trouble, but it sure seems to find her. She also become friends with Kat – another Talent – when the girl pushes herself into Joss’s life. Most of the kids seem to be Talents, so the reactions described in the beginning seems a bit odd. It’s told to us though, that Fairview does have more Talent kids than other places, but it’s not referred to after that, and you’re left wondering what’s behind it.
Dylan is about to get himself in a lot of trouble, mainly because of his friend, Marco – the story’s bad guy, the one already over the edge. He and his friends are using their Talents to enhance their criminal career. The relationship between Dylan and Marco was quite believable and it was well developed during the book.
Some things in the book were all but subtle, and it leaves the taste, that the students might not really be the brightest ones out there. For example the thing with the counselor didn’t really come as a surprise, when it was revealed.
I loved the way Bischoff made some of her secondary characters, them being more than just props, and especially the way she wrote the main antagonist, him being much more than your ordinary bully. That said, other characters would’ve needed more work with how they came off in the story, one being the counselor.
The book starts promising, weaving several plots and you just can’t wait to find the answer to some of them. That’s why it’s such a disappointment, that you don’t really get any, the most interesting plot twists never get opened up or followed more. The end of the book felt more like it should be the middle of it. I guess the fact, that the book is part of series makes it so, but even when that’s the case the book left a bit of an unfinished feeling. Wouldn’t annoy too much, if the next book was out yet, but there’s not even a release date for it.
Bischoff is a talented storyteller though and I enjoyed reading Hush Money, and I do think it’s well worth it’s price. Some people may want to wait until the next part of the series is out also.
Save My Soul (Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy: Preternaturals Book 2)
on March 30, 2011
I loved Save My Soul. Zoe Winters has amazingly polished her writing and the story flows smoothly through the whole book. The plot is set up brilliantly and things you thought were just fillers in the story gets picked up later. In the end there’s several twists, each one of them making you speed up your reading to see what happens next. I have to admit, I did not see THAT coming.
In the beginning we get to know Anna, who after her fathers death returned to the town she grew up in. With a heritage she doesn’t really need to worry about money, so she buys a house she loved as a kid and settles in. Anna is not one to believe in ghosts and magic, but when it becomes evident, that she’s not alone in the house with her cats the story starts to unfold.
We’re introduced with Luc, the sexy incubi, who can’t leave the house. Tam, Anna’s childhood friend, coming back into her life. Horrifyingly realistic nosy neighbors, more demons, priests, hookers, gypsies, a van that plays the ghostbusters theme. The range of the secondary characters is astounding and all of them so well written. Makes you wonder which one Winters will pick to be the heroine in her next book – asuming she still continues with the same fictional world. I guess it would be Tam, though one of the hookers would be a really interesting choice to read about.
And when you’re reading a book where there’s an incubi, you should know to be ready for some steamy moments. All the sexual tension and sex scenes are – as the rest of the book – very well written and leaves you with a craving. The scenes don’t feel misplaces as they can in some books – in Save My Soul they have a rightfully claimed spot.
I can’t find anything real to criticize and I might end up repeating myself, but it’s just that good. There was only one minor thing with Anna’s thoughts about Cecelia Townsend, that snapped me out of the book when I read it, because it seemed to be contrary to what had been told to us just a bit earlier.
Anyway Save My Soul is a great book. Go read it. :)
The Vampire Relationship Guide, Volume 1: Meeting and Mating
on April 15, 2011
It’s clear, that this is meant to be a light chick-lit with paranormal creatures spicing it up – I’ve read enough Harlequin romances to recognize it – so I’m going to review it as such.
We get to know Josie and start following her dream come true journey into the vampire world. If you think of any pulp romance story, you might believe in the beginning that’s what this is going to be, but it’s a bit more than that. Instead of one handsome male you have two – though it is easy to guess who’s The One – and there’s a dark twist closer to the end. Sure it is foreshadowed, but I didn’t expect it to go that far when reading chick-lit. However it was a refreshing turn and made the book something else than your usual pulp dose.
In my opinion the story suffers a bit from the way it handles the core romance and I would have wanted it to be elaborated. The way it is now just makes me feel uncomfortable of the whole thing. If it wasn’t such a major part of the story it wouldn’t matter that much, but because it’s the romance I count it for quite a chunk.
Josie is sweet and witty and comes off somewhat bipolar as a real chick-lit heroine should, but momentarily she seem to be too… gullible. Not sure if gullible is the best word, but I have a hard time finding a better one. In the beginning of the novella Josie had me full-heartedly on her side, but then the bath happened and I just didn’t know what to think anymore. It was too soon from every angle in my opinion, and I kept thinking who would let a stranger do that and not be freaked out in that situation. Of course in chick-lit the heroine rarely portraits the reality, but this was a bit too much for me, since I wasn’t able to relate at all.
The author doesn’t dwell too much on others than Josie, but since it’s a novella, it’s not really even expected. I think Lafont revealed us just enough of the characters so you can get a grip of them without interfering with the pace of the story. I did keep hoping that the mailman would have showed himself again later in the book, but he never did.
Writing: Lafont’s way of writing is fast paced and light – even when things get a darker turn – and her novella is an easy and enjoyable read. For a chick-lit the style is pretty perfect. She does overuse certain techniques in the writing, especially in the end where it gets tiresome. Other than that it shows that Lafont took the novella to a professional editor, since there’s no sign of many fundamental mistakes you usually can spot in a self-published eBook.
I can easily recommend this as an enjoyable light read to all you who enjoy your chick-lit with a twist. I think the novella would also please those who don’t normally care for paranormal elements in their books.
The Mind Readers, Book 1
on May 05, 2011
I was very taken by the books blurb, and I was eager to see what Brighton had done with mind reading. Also the cover is purely gorgeous.
Even though I enjoyed the story, there was several things I disliked in it. Right in the beginning I had a hard time relating with Cameron, and understanding why she even wants to be friends with Emily. All the possible reasons are shallow, and it doesn’t make her any more likeable.
The beginning of the book had a lingering feeling on it and I would have liked it to continue to the end of the book. Unfortunately after Cameron leaves with Lewis, the pace speeds up, and I felt like missing lots of potentially interesting stuff. In my opinion it would have done the book good, if Cameron being with the other mind readers and learning her skills would have gotten more space in the book. The amount of happenings in the end makes it feel a bit rushed and we’re introduced to characters we never really get to know at all.
At first I got a bit Edward vibes from Lewis, but he proves to be a bit more crookier than that. I did like the complexity of the character, and I felt sorry for Cameron for falling for him. I loved how Brighton made it all make sense later, why Cameron had so easily trusted him in the beginning. What it comes to other characters, I think Brighton is a bit too fond of stereotypes. But I think the antagonist was relatively well done, and I liked the twist at the end.
I don’t know really. I want to read some reviews from true teenagers about this one, since it seems to me, that there’s some YA books that I like very much, and then there’s some like this, that doesn’t do it for me at all. I found Cameron to be shallow and childish most of the time, and actually the only character I found likable was Caroline, and her we don’t really see that much. For me there was also lots of things, that I just couldn’t believe, for example why didn’t her grandmother teach her how to shut others out (wouldn’t that have saved them from a lot of trouble?), and then the “dorm” in the cellar (can’t say more without spoiling).
Mostly this book made me frustrated, since the story had so much potential, but it ended up just annoying. I had no trouble finishing the book though, since even with all the things that annoyed me, the story itself kept me reading, and I wanted to know how it ends. I liked the “Six Months After” bit, and I might read the sequel, if it ever gets published. Apparently the first book takes rounds in N.Y. with editors at the moment, so might be a while if it goes to traditional publishers.
I think this is a nice book for teenagers who can really relate to Cameron, but others might have some difficulties to truly enjoy it.
Vampire Assassin (Jane #1)
on March 31, 2012
The novella begins with Jane on a job assignment, but the book is more about how did Jane become a vampire assassin in the first place.
Vampire Assassin is a quick and entertaining read. Usually I like to read a fair amount of dialogue, but even though it’s scarce in this one, it didn’t really bother me. Jane is someone you can empathize with, the storytelling keeps you turning pages and it’s over all too soon. It’s a complete story however and the shortness only bothers, because Warren has painted such an intriguing world and main character with her words, that you end up craving for more. At some points it did feel like it would’ve been nice to hear more about the adventures of Jane and Steven — Steven being her love interest and soulmate in the story.
on April 10, 2012
This book had a lot of potential to be a great read in my eyes; historical setting, nun turning to witchcraft, brother as a templar knight going on a crusade. Long lost siblings finding each others, just so their worlds would clash and them to turn on each others.
I really wanted to like this book and for what I knew about it, I really thought I would. The beginning was very promising, but when it got to the point, where we meet Juliana (the sister) as a twelve year old nun things take a turn for the worse. Ready to step into the role the convent’s abbedissa had prepared her as an almoner and on her first sick visit Juliana has an epiphany when the old man tells her to live her life and not live it for others.
After the visit it over she wanders off and buys a manuscript saying Wicca in the the title. I don’t know much about historical facts, but it really seemed odd to me, that a twelve year old nun at the time would carry that much money with her – especially on a sick visit. I swallowed it for the story’s sake, since the girl would turn into witchcraft, so she had to learn it from somewhere.
His brother Clement is trained as a knight and signs up to be a templar knight. It’s stated that he’s been one with God since he tried to drown his newborn sister (because his father told him they would have to give her up) and been a very good christian since then. When he first heard about templar knights and what they do (turn heretics into christian by the force of the sword) he has been determined to want to be part of them. And yet he doubts their way of life (killing people and be religious at the same time) already during the same evening.
For me the characters weren’t real at all. The best written one might have been the abbedissa in the convent, but we don’t see her that much. The dialogue is stiff and has some modern sayings mixed in it. The biggest reason why I didn’t like the book though, was that everything was told. The author uses telling instead of showing as her technique, and it just doesn’t work. Also there’s lots of info dumps – in a way they’re nice tidbits about historical times, but doesn’t fit the book.
I think this would be great if a storyteller was telling it by the camp fire, but as a novel it just doesn’t work. It took me a long time to finish the novel and for a while I thought I wouldn’t, but in the end it’s a fast read. By all means do sample it and see for yourself – maybe you like it. The book was proofread and clean to read, so it’s better than lots of others out there. I’m afraid I don’t really know who to recommend this one to. And those who are wondering, the witchcraft is what it historically was (mixing some herbs is what’s used in the book), so don’t expect any magic.
Hollowland (The Hollows #1)
on April 15, 2012
Humans infected with zombie virus, epic road trip, doomsday cult, death, blood, ooze – Hollowland has it all, with the spice of some drama and little romance. I selected this book to be my first ever eBook and I can’t say I regret the choice.
The beginning sentence: “This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” is widely quoted on the reviews of this book, but it’s such a marvelous way to start this story, that I can’t but join them. From that sentence on the book takes you to a fast spaced journey with the heroine Remy, to find her brother, through a devastated land. Hope is scarce and survival hard.
I like strong female characters in books and Remy surely doesn’t need saving; she’s the one taking care of others. The Author has succeeded in making the character likable, yet not too perfect. I would’ve liked to see a bit more depth in her, but then again the fast pace throughout the novel didn’t really leave that much time to dig into the characters thoughts. Not necessarily a bad thing, since the story worked great as it was.
More so I really missed some clarification to some secondary character motivations and I think the author left many of the supporting roles disappointingly shallow, when there was potential to so much more. I’d especially would have liked to learn what Lia was thinking and what was her reasoning – I had to go back in the book to double check if I had skipped a page by mistake, since it was never addressed.
It’s easy to guess what’s the thing with Remy’s brother – I was sure of it from the start – but knowing it doesn’t diminish the reading experience. Even though it might be clear for the reader, it’s not hard to believe, that the secondary characters don’t know about it before Remy confides in them. On the other hand there was some surprises in the plot, mostly things that I expected to happen and they never did, partly this also made me wonder why some of the characters were even introduced, since they didn’t really add any real spice the story.
Hollowland is a solid book with a good story in it, so to all you who love your dose of zombies, go get it!
Impulse Control (Talent Chronicles)
on April 15, 2012
It's a nice shortie to have after the first Talent Chronicles book. I actually like it better than book #1. Hoping to see some of these characters on book #2.
on June 05, 2012
Phaedra lives alone with her kid sister and her crazy mother (who’s locked away to the attic so she wouldn’t injure or kill her daughters). She’s trying to handle school and keep social services away. All this while she has a doomed future of ending up like her mother, since her case of telekinesis has the nasty side-effect of the crazies. When Phaedra’s long lost (well he left) brother returns with a questionable cure to their mother’s (and Phaedra’s) condition, the book takes a turn to worse. Phaedra proves to be a whiny self-centered bastard who thinks she’s all high and mighty.
In my eyes Bittersweet had lots of problems, but the story was somewhat interesting and kept me reading. I didn’t like the main character Phaedra at all, the mystery presented in the beginning of the book had no real effect to the plot and was simply explained in the end. The secondary characters were flat without any real meaning — you see Phaedra’s friends in the beginning and they swoon over her brother and then they’re pretty much forgotten. Also sad to say, Bittersweet is in dire need of editing. There’s lots of typos and some very weird word choices as “manicured eyebrows” that snapped me out of the story.
The story had some good potential in the midway of the plot, when things really started happening, but the new crew that emerged was just blah and the explanation for the group of kids hunting hags didn’t hold water.
Since a big part of the story was that the mother is crazy and that’s what awaits Phaedra in the future as well, I think it’s fair to ponder about that a bit also. We learn that having sex with an incubus works like medicine against the condition, but in a fleeting moment it’s mentioned that also having a hysterectomy would cure you fully. Even so it’s passed as a no-go option because Phaedra thought her mother would not approve of her having one at the age of seventeen. So hmm…
option 1) losing myself and be a violent crazy
option 2) get rid of my uterus and continue being sane
Which would you choose? The hysterectomy cure was apparently known before her brother popped up with the questionable antidote. And so we come to that. Since being crazy was a better option than hysterectomy, it’s no surprise, that having sex with an incubus that your brother and mom are already sexing up is a better option as well. Phaedra would totally do it with the incubus if her mother told her so (seriously).
The end of the book was tightly done and best part of the book, and I can’t shrug off the feeling, that if the author would just have polished the beginning a bit more, it would’ve been so much better. I don’t know… I think this review came off a bit snarky, but I feel frustrated, since I wanted to like the book and it just left me shaking my head. I do think some readers might enjoy this book, so if the points I mentioned wouldn’t bother you, do give it a chance.
How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months
on March 08, 2013
I thought this to be a nice insight of how he did it and liked it when I read it. I've since learned it's pretty much lies, since he's bought a big chunk of his five star reviews and it makes me wish I could get a refund on this.