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Smashwords book reviews by Books4Tomorrow Reviews
- In Dreams
on Oct. 23, 2011
“In Dreams” is a feel-good, heart warming, love story with an unexpected twist, aimed at young adults. The characters are hip and sassy; and the dialogue witty and laugh-out-loud! By the third chapter, you already feel yourself drawn in by the honesty and raw emotions the characters exude; which makes this an overall fun read to be enjoyed on a sunny afternoon, next to the pool.
- In Dreams
on Oct. 23, 2011
“In Dreams” is a feel-good, heart warming, love story with an unexpected twist, aimed at young adults. The characters are hip and sassy; and the dialogue witty and laugh-out-loud! By the third chapter, you already feel yourself drawn in by the honesty and raw emotions the characters exude; which makes this an overall fun read to be enjoyed on a sunny afternoon, next to the pool.
- Energy - The Awakening
on Nov. 06, 2011
I can honestly say that this book hooked me from the very first page.
“Energy” is filled with take-your-breath-away shocking moments, heart stopping suspense, surprising twists, humor, plenty of action, romance and adventure. All the ingredients necessary to keep you turning the pages as fast as you can. It is a well-written, easy to read book, with a unique and interesting plot, which takes you on a journey to a world where even the moralities of the good guys can be twisted by power and greed.
I fell in love with the sincerity and personalities of the characters – even some of the evil ones - very early in the book. It was easy to relate to the characters and I often cried and laughed along with them. Although the story is fast-paced, it never leaves the reader behind.
“Energy” is going to be a bestseller in no time and therefore I happily recommend this fantastic book to young and old alike!
- A Sucker Born Every Minute
on Nov. 13, 2011
In “A Sucker Born Every Minute”, author Lia Kane gives us a refreshing new variation on the vampire theme.
Despite becoming VAM-positive as a result of being drugged and infected while in her freshman year, Jerrika, the main character, stays a kind, caring and loyal person, who is always ready to defend those who share her affliction, from attacks by hostile people.
As the VAM virus can be passed on by something as simple as a passionate kiss, infected people are not allowed to indulge in intimate relationships. To complicate matters for Jerrika, the handsome Mayor, as well as the equally handsome doctor, enters her life when she starts her job at the orphanage for VAM-positive children in Blue Sky. Both men seem almost too good to be true.
You'll smile at the antics of the VAM-positive orphans and enjoy meeting their unusual caretakers. This book hooked me from the very beginning. It reads at a comfortable pace, with never a dull moment. The characters are realistic and life like; and the dialogue highly perky and entertaining.
Although there are several suspects when bad things start to happen, Lia keeps the reader guessing right up to the end. Moments of suspense, sadness and fear are masterfully balanced by a good measure of humor.
“A Sucker Born Every Minute” is a truly heartwarming read. With this book I sense the birth of an absolutely awesome new series!
on Nov. 13, 2011
For many, the world of the supernatural is real. In this novel, you'll meet vampires, werewolves, changelings, witches; and of course, an evil stepmother.
Having grown up in a cold and loveless home, Lily Taylor never realized how different the first thirteen years of her life had been, compared to that of other children, until the mysterious disappearance of her parents.
Travel to Canada with this shy, yet mature girl, in her quest to unravel the mystery of her parents' disappearance. Read how she discovers the delights of being part of a large family whose members have some very extraordinary gifts. You will truly feel part of the warm circle of friends and relatives that support Lily on her mission, and which emphasizes the importance of mutual support in a group where every member is unusual in one way or another.
This, the first book in a new series full of lovely characters and thrilling adventure, made me look forward to the second book, “December Moon”.
A highly recommended read for young and old alike!
- December Moon: Part II of The Raven Saga
on Nov. 27, 2011
Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. In “December Moon”, the second book in the Raven Saga, Suzy Turner once again transports the reader into the exciting world of the supernatural. The latest installment in this series, takes the reader on an adventure in which December learns how to use her talent in order to protect her friend; and interesting new characters - both good and bad – are introduced. If you’ve read “Raven”, the first book in this series, you will feel as though you are rejoining old and well loved friends in this second book.
Although there’s lots of action and adventure in the story, the pace is comfortable enough so as to give the reader ample time to savor every moment. I also thought the characters to be very realistic and well defined. Moments of suspense and intensity are expertly balanced by easy-going scenes and enough humor to relax the tension.
As in “Raven”, I was again touched by the warmth and love with which Lily's family and friends accepted December and her family into their midst. Nothing however is always just perfect blue skies, so there are also some truly sad moments, which will bring tears to your eyes. I found myself completely absorbed in the story, experiencing joy, fear and sadness along with the characters. If you enjoyed reading “Raven”, you will absolutely love “December Moon”. It is more than a worthwhile read! (Ellen Fritz)
- The Dark Gifts Inheritance
on Dec. 03, 2011
Willow Cross’s “Inheritance” is the first book ever I’ve read of this author, and I can assure you it won’t be the last! I was always wondering why other readers were gushing about her books, until I read “Inheritance” - and I was blown away, to say the least.
First off, I need to mention here, that I don’t usually read werewolf-themed books or anything related to werewolves. I find werewolves dreary and the theme repetitive; but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is not the case with “Inheritance”. After finishing the book in only a short time, I can safely say that Willow Cross’s imagination knows no boundaries. I have never read a werewolf-themed story before that has evoked such emotion from me, as this one did. Not even the werewolves in the “Twilight” Saga are as real or as beautifully depicted as the ones in Willow Cross’s “Inheritance”. Werewolves are not the only interesting characters the reader meets in this book though. Witches, vampires and a whole array of exciting characters, adds to the splendour of this extraordinary book.
The non-stop suspense unfolds from the first chapter right through to the very last page; and the well-crafted plot in this book is what sets it apart from other werewolf-themed novels and makes this an outright unique read. The author’s attention to detail is evident as she succeeds in creating a homely and welcoming, but also familiar, setting for the characters to develop in; and consequently draws you into their world from the very start.
Willow’s uncomplicated but clever writing style, made it possible for me to devour this book in only a few hours. At times I was left breathless by the, heart-racing action and edge-of-your-seat suspense, but what I loved most about “Inheritance” is that there are no overtly in-your-face love scenes. Characters falling in love with each other are beautifully portrayed in a subtle way and using only a few simple sentences, Willow let’s you appreciate the deep love the characters feel for each other.
Saying that I couldn’t put this remarkable book down, is an understatement. There are so many things I loved about this book - believable lead characters; effortless transitioning from one chapter to the next; and a masterpiece ending - I will definitely be reading “Inheritance” again and again. Willow Cross clearly knows what her readers want; and how to keep them satisfied and begging for more!
- Hidden - a dark romance (Marchwood Vampire Series #1)
on Dec. 10, 2011
As the first book in the Marchwood Vampire series, "Hidden" is the perfect introduction to a new series. The author masterfully balances captivating storytelling, adventure and tender moments throughout the story. Often you will ask yourself who you should trust and who not as some secrets are diligently kept for a surprise ending
There are a rather large number of important characters in “Hidden”. Introduced and developed in such a skillful manner, there is no danger of the reader getting them confused. Although the narrative switches back and forth between events in modern day England and the back story in the nineteenth century, I found it easy to keep track of and understand where I was in the story. The vivid and detailed descriptions of nineteenth century France and Turkey makes you feel as though you are there, experiencing the events along with the archaeologists and their families. From the underground city in ancient Cappadocia to rural England, we are taken on an unforgettable journey of adventure, suspense and romance.
The author takes the necessary time to create a believable and realistic background for the existence and very nature of her characters. She allows the characters to grow as the tale progresses: Maddy from a rebellious unhappy foster-care teenager into a responsible young adult and Alexandre Chevalier from a thoughtless Parisian socialite into a man who takes his duties towards his friends and family seriously.
There are also quite a great deal to smile about, as the language barrier is hilarious at times. Imagine a nineteenth century French aristocrat with a command of some formal Victorian English, suddenly catapulted into twenty first century England. Victorian English verses modern slang? Look at this excerpt.
`Do not take it too much to heart,' Alexandre said, watching her pace around the lounge. He stood in front of her and put a hand on her arm. `Your reaction was perfectly normal. Isobel would have screamed the house down and run for her life.' `Yeah, no offence to Isobel, but she's a Victorian chick and I'm supposed to be an enlightened street-wise hard-ass, not a wuss.'
`I maybe understood about three words in that sentence,' Alexandre replied. `Translation I'm embarrassed at being so scared of a skeleton and ashamed I treated Harold like that.' She covered her face and cringed as she remembered her over-reaction to the discovery of the skeleton.(excerpt)
Then there are some humorously presented pearls of wisdom like:
‘You can't start thinking what if. That's a short cut to a shit life.’ (excerpt)
The vampires in the Marchwood universe are also unique. Garlic, crosses, stakes to the heart, even an ax to the neck will not kill them. Oddly enough, the one thing that will is also the cure for the debilitating sleeping disease from which all vampires seem to suffer.
When you get to the last few chapters however, you will not be able to turn the pages fast enough while you sweat and panic towards the suspense-laden conclusion. Add to this some really tasteful romance and beautiful descriptions of nature and you have a book that is an absolute must read with the promise of a fantastic new series in the making. “Hidden” receives two thumbs-up and five well deserved stars! (Ellen Fritz)
- Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet)
on Dec. 10, 2011
If you want to read a book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride; simultaneously shocks and awes you, then this is it.
In “Captive in the Dark”, author CJ Roberts gives us a good look at the world of pleasure slaves and their trainers. A world devoid of love or mercy; a world of traitors and revenge where only the fearless and powerful has a chance of surviving.
All Livvie ever wanted was for her mother to love her, for her dreams of the handsome angel who rescued her from an evil pursuer on the street to come true; and ultimately for a pair of loving arms to hold her. She is a victim, but a victim who will fight back long after the reader thinks she is broken and crushed into absolute submission. I found Livvie’s character to be a breath of fresh air. So often female characters are portrayed as needy, clingy and weak, but she was exactly the opposite. Despite the horrendous physical and emotional torture she suffered, she remained strong, courageous and displayed a maturity beyond her years.
“I want you to get up.” He stretched out his hand toward me. Weary, I stared at it for what seemed a long time, thinking of the damage waiting to be done by that hand. His calm and my fear hung between us in a thick and heavy coil. He was going to hurt me, something in me knew it. That certainty nearly numbed me. Searching to work my way into his good graces, I reached out tentatively, waiting for the snake to strike. I touched his out-stretched hand, wanting to recoil and shrink back. But I didn’t. He smiled. It was a smile that struck me instantly as both beautiful and evil. (excerpt)
Caleb on the other hand does not know or understand what love is. A victim of circumstance himself, he chose power, revenge and an impossible debt to a friend, to be his final escape from victimhood. But, can he ever completely escape being a victim? Could love, the one thing he does not know or understand, make him a victim again?
Having said this, I think CJ Roberts created the most realistic characters I have ever come across in a book. She allows her characters to grow along with the story; developing as well as revealing depths to their personalities, hidden beneath layers of hurt and disillusionment.
"My life was a joke, to him, to my mother, to those asshole bikers! A cruel, heartbreaking joke and I was more than ready for the punch line. Ready for my life, the joke, to be over.” (excerpt)
As the story alternates between the third person point of view of Caleb, and Livvie's first person point of view, the reader gets a very close look at the true thoughts and feelings of both. This highly effective style of writing serves to bring the reader deeper into the story, making it a truly unforgettable, emotional experience. The story is written with an intensity which will leave you numb; dreading and cursing the cruelty of the slave trainer and crying your heart out with, and for Livvie….. and yes – sometimes even for Caleb.
Extreme betrayal plays a key role in this book. Livvie's love for her mother betrayed; and Caleb - all too aware of the ever present possibility of betrayal by his friend Rafiq, his thug helpers and even Livvie.
"I let him. I was always seeking shelter in the people who hurt me the most. My mother. My father. Caleb. Like a battered dog begging for love from a malicious master." (excerpt)
I truly admire the author for maintaining such a high level of emotional intensity and stomach churning tension throughout the book. Her insight into human weaknesses and raw emotions is astonishing! Yet, in spite of all this horror and cruelty, there are some heartrendingly beautiful and touching moments in the story.
I give this book a rating of 5 stars - and will be waiting with breathless anticipation for the story to continue in the next book. Author CJ Roberts is definitely on her way up!
(As this book deals with the subject of pleasure slaves and kidnapping in a very real way, there are scenes and subject matter which might offend sensitive readers and thus is not suitable for readers below the age of eighteen. It contains scenes of severe cruelty, deviant sexual practices and violence which, although realistic, may offend sensitive readers.) (Ellen Fritz)
- Creative Spirit
on Dec. 17, 2011
This is probably the shortest review I’ve written on any book so far, but “Creative Spirit” is easy to sum up in a few sentences, so here goes.
“Unputdownable” doesn’t roll off the tongue so well for me, but that’s just what it is. Wonderfully creepy are also great words to capture the essence of this book. For quite some time now I’ve been searching around for a book that would scare the living daylights out of me, as I am a big horror / paranormal fan, and don’t scare easily. How lucky for me to have won a copy of “Creative Spirit” by Scott Nicholson for review!
Remember how haunted house stories used to be written? This book is just like that – although it’s not just any haunted house, but something far more sinister. Voodoo, witchcraft, shockingly slow deaths, possession, and loads more hair-raising goodies are to be found right here. It contains all the elements a good old fashioned, spine chilling supernatural story should have.
I suppose I should mention what really adds to this book is good, solid characters with strong personalities, each with their own in depth background story; as well as medium to fast pacing of the storyline that builds up the suspense really well until you can take no more. The author hardly gives you enough time to catch your breath before launching into the next bloodcurdling twist!
I won’t recommend you read this before turning off the lights though – you’ll keep looking over your shoulder and hearing strange noises in the dark...
But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
WARNING: Not for the fainthearted.
- Seeing Julia
on Dec. 17, 2011
For Julia there is the 'before' and the 'after'. In the before part she has her parents and the unbelievably handsome boy who gives her, her first kiss. In the ‘after’ she loses her parents, then her fiancée and then her husband. Now she is afraid to love and let anybody get too close, for fear of losing them too. All this sets her on a course of battling grief, self-discovery and unearthing of secrets which turns her entire way of thinking upside down.
A romance with a whole lot of depth, “Seeing Julia” is not the kind of book you want to read in a hurry. To experience the depth of the emotional turmoil caused by the devastating losses Julia suffers in her life, you'll probably find yourself rereading large portions of the book. The in-depth descriptions of her heart-wrenching sense of loss, is balanced by the beautiful caring nature, and actions, of friends.
The story is masterfully written in a first person present tense perspective. It brings the reader in very close contact with the thoughts and feelings of the main character. I effortlessly identified with Julia's desire to be a normal person, doing normal things, in a normal life. All she wants is to be seen for who she is and not as the widow of the highly successful businessman, Evan Hamilton. Above all, she wants to spend her life caring for her son and securing a future for him. But getting to that point, she has to undergo a journey of self-discovery.
Realistic characters always impress me and in this book they are plentiful. The way in which Julia's friends supported her throughout the ups and downs of her life, was heartwarming and enduring. No matter what happened in Julia’s life, her inner circle of friends were always there to not only support her emotionally, but to also take an active role in her business affairs, and also in her love life.
I recommend this novel to all who enjoy a highly emotional story that tugs at your heart strings with a main character who shows remarkable growth throughout the book. “Seeing Julia” rightly deserves its 5 stars! (Ellen Fritz)
- Anathema - Cloud Prophet Trilogy, Book 1
on Dec. 24, 2011
The first book in the Cloud Prophecy series, “Anathema” was an awesome read! I downloaded it as a free book from kindle, and wasn’t in a rush to read it. But once I got started, I was hooked! Before I got to the end of the book, I was already looking forward to the next two books in this series by Megg Jensen.
I loved everything about this book. It was an easy and fast read, with an uncomplicated, yet unpredictable, plot line. The story moves at a comfortable pace and each setting is so well-described, it effortlessly drew me into the book.
I quickly fell in love with the characters, especially with the main character Reychel. She is a down to earth character, accepting her life as a slave without complaint. What I also enjoyed about this character, is how she grew as a person throughout the book, while staying true to her unassuming and sincere nature. The one thing that annoys me, is when female characters are portrayed as weak and helpless. This is not the case with Reychel, or any of the other characters, and in my books that makes her so much more likeable.
Supporting characters, good and bad, were also well crafted and the author skillfully blended them into the storyline. The romance between Reychel and her love interest was subtle and tastefully written.
I would’ve liked if Kandek’s character could’ve been a little more developed, and it would’ve added a lot more to the plot if certain things were seen from his point of view, but hopefully this will be done in the next two books. It doesn’t really take anything away from the story though.
The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, but as this is the first book in the series, some points are neatly tied up and others are left open to be developed in the next book. Fellow readers, I highly recommend this stunning book to young and old alike!
- Blonde Demolition
on Jan. 07, 2012
What a superbly written story! The first page of the book skydives straight into explosive action and it continues right on from there – one heart stopping action scene after another. Now you might think that this sounds like something men would prefer to read, right? Well yes, and no. While a macho male lead, explosions, car chases, flying bullets and fight scenes, as well as the Lara Croft-like leading lady might well appeal to men, “Blonde Demolition’ is actually a love story with all the ingredients us women want in a good romance.
So prepare yourselves ladies, as you’re bound to fall in love with one of the hottest male characters I’ve ever come across in a book. Yep. He gives Edward Cullen a go for his money – I mean, we’re talking ruggedly handsome here – not sparkly. The passion between Mallory and Trey (the two main characters) had my pulse beating out of control and left me short of breath. And that is only the start of it! I loved the adrenaline-pumping energy in this book and the sincerity of the characters – real down-to-earth people I could identify with.
The only “downside” to this fantastic read, was the few grammar mistakes scattered throughout the book; but as I was turning the pages as fast as I could to keep up with the suspense-laden events and red hot passion between the two main characters, I could easily overlook these little errors.
What else will you be getting out of this book? Solid dialogue that makes you feel part of the conversation and fast paced action that will leave you breathless; as well as an exceptional storyline and unforgettable characters, makes this a must read.
Chris Redding has just netted herself a brand new fan!
- Family Magic (Book One--Hayle Coven Novels)
on Jan. 08, 2012
Being a powerful witch as well as the daughter of a demon lord is not exactly the best recipe for being normal in a modern high school. Add two attractive boys and a bunch of vindictive cheerleaders and things can get complicated.
Syd, the main character, transforms from being the victimized new kid in high school to an assertive person who accepts her magical powers in order to keep the leadership of the Hayle Coven of Witches from falling into the hands of some truly nasty characters. As we read this story from the main character's point of view, we are right there with her as she rebels against her mother, denies her inherent power and tries to cope with everyday high school politics. The way in which she tells her story is quirky and often funny. Her inner dialogue is downright hilarious at times!
I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous versatile characters in this book - a rather special cat, a couple of vampires and a very, very old dog. And let's not forget the variety of witches, a few colorful teenagers and a crazy grandmother who can only be subdued by chocolate and tequila and who has invaluable information and wisdom for her family - during her infrequent moments of lucidity, that is.
As this is the first book in the Hayle Coven series, the author takes the necessary time to introduce her readers to the characters and the world they live in. The action, suspense, Syd's teenage dramas and numerous disputes are artfully balanced by lovely moments of family solidarity, a touch of romance and some out-and-out humorous situations. The close relationship between the main character and her not-so-normal little sister is sure to warm your heart. Thus I can safely say that there’s not one dull moment in this story!
Although this is a young adult novel, I would strongly recommend it to readers of all ages. I, for one, am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series by a very gifted author.
- Have a Nice Weekend
on Jan. 14, 2012
Will is a happy-go-lucky guy with a working class upbringing and attitude. He's just a plain old Joe with no lofty expectations. At work he meets Abi, a go-getter girl from the "better" part of town, who knows exactly what she wants.
As it sometimes happens in life, the odd-ball couple hit it off and got married, mainly due to Abi's overtures and efforts. They settle down to married life, which doesn’t turn out too idyllic for either of them. Abi, the go-getter, is always pushing for more in life and for Will to be more, which goes against his grain. He doesn't have aspirations, just wants to get on with living life day by day, getting the most out of life with what he has.
They eventually have two children, but by the time the kids had grown into teenagers, the strain of their marriage had simply become too much for Abi to bear. And that’s when it happened. One evening Will returns home and finds Abi waiting for him, having already packed his bags!
What to do now?
This is an engaging work of fiction with the well and woes of a typical couple's relationship at its core. It's a great read! I especially love the characters’ real-life flaws and how “average” they are, which makes them so easy to relate to. Ian Ellis brilliantly depicts the age-old conflict and misunderstanding between the genders in a modern day setting. Although the language is somewhat crude at times, it is true to the characters and times of this story, and not over done. I also liked the fact that there is no hype; just true-life actions and dialogue.
This book provides a relaxing, engaging read, suitable for both men and women. (David Fritz)
on Feb. 05, 2012
Although the new cover of “Compulsion” isn’t really my taste, the blurb did entice me to sit down and see what the story is all about.
I finished the book in no time, as the author’s writing is very simplistic and uncomplicated. She takes you into the lives of likeable characters who each discover their powers, grow as persons trough out the book; and a family whose bonds strengthen as they work together to face the dangers that threaten their lives and their very existence as a coven.
The author isn’t sparse with details on the characters’ every move, emotions and their surroundings which allow the reader to experience the warmth and closeness of the Moon clan firsthand. Lily, the main character, has a personality perfectly suited for the role she is given to defend her coven. She is strong, assertive and brave, but at times also emotionally vulnerable. Mason, who would give his life in a heartbeat to protect Lily, is every girl’s dream guy, and by himself a great reason to grab and devour this book. My favourite of course was Izzy the cat!
“Compulsion” is Kymberlee Burkes-Miller’s debut novel and is an enjoyable, easy read which will appeal to the imagination of young adults across the spectrum. After finishing the last chapter of this magical book, the reader is left eagerly anticipating the release of the author’s next novel in this series.
- Spell Checked
on Feb. 12, 2012
Spell checked? I think not.
I have no idea where to start with this review. I somewhat enjoyed the book, but there were so many things “wrong” with it, it’s actually quite sad. The one thing I can say with certainty, is that a good editor would’ve made a world of difference. But instead of droning on and on about the things which brings down the value of this book, I’ll give you a quick run-through of the points that bugged me. Just humor me and let me have my little rant here, about a book that has so much potential to be a bestseller if the author is willing to make a few changes to it.
Let’s start with the first major point which I found quite annoying: the author’s fear of using the apostrophe in all the right places. Do not; has not; was not and are not, contributed to throwing the rhythm of the book off balance. Once I started reading it as don’t, hasn’t, wasn’t and aren’t, the story read smoother and suited its characters and setting much better.
The second issue I had was the grammar errors. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was noticeable.
The whole book is written in such a way as to make it an easy read suitable for young adults, but time and again the intimate scenes between the characters ended up being pure erotica with unexpected crude language at inappropriate intervals - thus making it unsuitable for younger readers. It also succeeded in creating the impression that the author wasn’t sure whether it should be a young adult novel, or a read suitable for more mature readers.
Magic was used as a scapegoat to fix every situation to which the author couldn’t figure out a solution. Abracadabra and the characters got out of sticky situations in a jiffy.
There was no point to the plot and not an ounce of suspense. No, really! The blurb hinted at some action and danger for the main character, but nothing happened. Mae - the main character - was trained throughout the book to use her magical gifts to protect herself and others from harm; creating the impression that she is preparing for a big battle scene or something similar. All she ended up using her magical gifts for were to heal one or two characters and to knock her lover off his feet while they were chasing after each other naked down the passages in their mansion. It was such a disappointment!
The characters were somewhat flawed, in an effort to make them believable, but it was still hard to identify with them when all the difficulties they faced were easily solved with truckloads of money and magic, thus making it hard to feel any sympathy for them whenever they went through rough patches.
As this is the first book in this series, I’ll rather believe that it served as a very (unnecessary) long introduction to the characters who will be the main role-players in the next books in the series. But other than that, there was really no point to this story other than character development.
So why am I recommending this book with 3 stars? Because despite everything I found “wrong” with this book, I couldn’t put it down. There’s definitely something in the author’s writing that is captivating enough to grab the reader’s attention and keep it until the end of the book. This alone is testimony that CG Powell is a talented author who knows how to engage her readers, but just has to find the right rhythm for her writing style and some good advice (or a better editor) on how to add that extra “oomph” to this book. She certainly impressed me with her knowledge on technology and she has an imagination that can charm readers out of their socks! Now if only she can find a way to apply it in a more-showing, less-telling manner...
- Not To Us
on Feb. 12, 2012
Isn’t it true that when horrible things happen to others, we are quick to think that it won’t happen to us? That’s exactly what “Not To Us” is centered on.
Friends since college, Ellie, her husband and their mutual friends had it all. Each with successful careers, children and living comfortable lives, when out of the blue divorce, infidelity, breast cancer, death and betrayal swoops down on all of them, especially Ellie - cutting a swathe of destruction on many levels through her life.
At one point I was asking myself: what else can go wrong in these people's lives? To add to all the upheaval in her life, Ellie meets a man who means well but causes the ultimate complication in an already out of control situation. It thoroughly baffled me that so much can go wrong between two couples - including a complete partner swop - while they still try and hang on to their friendship.
The romantic relationships in “Not To Us” are masterfully described. In fact, the sweet parts as well as some of the almost poignantly sad moments often brought tears to my eyes. The romantic involvements of especially the main character is put under the microscope with the main relationship being put to the test multiple times until I thought that there was no way in which any relationship can withstand this much trial. You will have to wait right up to the end to see whether this happens or not.
The story is written in the present tense and from the first person perspective of the main character, which deeply involves the reader in Ellie’s thoughts, emotions and moral struggles. This makes the whole story just that much more realistic and believable. The problems addressed are those that happen to people all the time: Ellie's best friend betraying her again and again, ensuing divorce; the onset of breast cancer; an unexpected pregnancy - and all of that within the group of friends who had been together for twenty years and more.
Reading this book was quite an emotional roller coaster ride for me, as things don’t end with these trials and tribulations but declines further into more betrayal and sorrow. This is not your average quick-read romance, but a book to be read at leisure so as to enjoy every moment thereof. It touches you on different emotional levels and forces the reader to face many truths; that we have no control over our lives, no matter how hard we try. What makes the difference though, is how we deal with it.
“It's true; my mind has already begun the slow descent into disbelief. It races with this one pervasive thought: this can't be happening, not to us.” (Ellen Fritz)
- Witch Hunt (Book Two-Hayle Coven Novels)
on Feb. 18, 2012
If I thought the first book in this series was an absolute must read, then “Witch Hunt” must be something like a double must read!
Six months along and Sydlynn Hayle is still in the same town and the same school but now has a circle of friends and even a boyfriend. She is learning to use her magical powers, enjoying her life with her friends and going to parties like any normal teenage girl.
One of the parties turns into a disaster when an ancient power arises to start feeding on kids with latent magical powers. When the mean cheerleader Suzanne are possessed, and town folk and coven members start disappearing, Syd’s coven has to step in and do something about it. That is when things get out of hand.
Syd's crazy grandmother, who can only be subdued by a constant supply of chocolates and tequila, continues with her antics in this book, entertaining the reader to no end. And let's not forget another contributor who adds to the magic of this story - the silver Persian cat, Sassafras, who is really something else imprisoned in the body of a cat.
Once I started reading Witch Hunt, I simply couldn't put it down. The nonstop excitement, action and drama kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. As I had become very fond of many of the characters when reading the first book in the series, “Family Magic”, I was really concerned that something bad may befall one of them during this story.
The dialogue is extremely well written but most enjoyable, and often hilarious, is the inner dialogue and thoughts of the main character, Syd. When she thinks of the bad guy as somebody with two god-complexes and a serious multiple personality disorder, I was shouting with laughter.
Patti Larsen brilliantly combines just the right amount of action, warmth and humor in this book - something which I always admire greatly in authors. I would strongly recommend this young adult novel to readers of all ages. Once again this gifted writer has given her readers a beautiful, warm-hearted and very suspenseful 5 star read to enjoy. (Ellen Fritz)
- Edge Of Dreams
on Feb. 25, 2012
“Edge of Dreams” is a fantastic 5 star read and the first in a series which promises to be highly exciting and truly unique.
It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel for a change, which only had humans in it and no other paranormal characters; albeit humans with a difference and very powerful magical and psychic abilities which allows them to travel into parallel dimensions and manipulate time with their minds.
When Ricky discovers that the people and places of his extremely vivid dreams are real, his attention is diverted from a possible life of crime to far more challenging adventures. Enter Calith, with his colorful hair and equally colorful personality, and things for Ricky and his sister may never be the same again. Ricky is not the only one who faces change as Calith also has to deal with doubt and horrific betrayal from those he trusted most. Amid all the seriousness I had to smile at Ricky's smart mouth which often came close to getting him into trouble, as well as at Calith who can throw some impressive temper tantrums.
The author expertly incorporates fantasy, magic, different plains of existence and psychic powers into daily life as we know it. The unbearable suspense builds up slowly as to give the reader an in-depth insight into the worlds and lives of these exceptional characters. Although this is a straightforward good vs evil plot, the reader is kept guessing until the very end as to who are the bad guys and who are the heroes in this story.
I enjoyed the friendship and close bonds shared between the characters, and it touched my heart how readily they would make sacrifices, including their lives, for the ones they love and to keep their worlds safe. The two main characters, although only seventeen, are remarkably grown-up and deal with their unusual trials and tribulations in a mature and intelligent way. A touch of romance between Calith and Ricky’s sister Louise, adds that extra sweet touch to this story.
“Edge of Dreams” was a real pleasure to read from start to end. I applaud the author for her originality in creating worlds that are so well portrayed, the reader can experience and appreciate every single detail of its beauty to their fullest. I strongly recommend this brilliant read to readers of all ages. It’s worth every penny! (Ellen Fritz)
- Golden Blood
on March 12, 2012
This totally awesome young adult paranormal romance captivated me from the first sentence. It had me alternately breaking out in goose bumps, sitting up in anticipation and smiling at the sensitive romantic scenes. Not being able to put it down, I read through it in one sitting.
The kids at school call Gemma Heart a freak. Those she helps think she is an angel and Harrison Granger thinks she is the most beautiful and sweetest girl he has ever met. With a secret that has to be kept at all costs, a strict training schedule, school work and sudden dangerous missions into the past, Gemma has almost no hope of ever having friends or a meaningful relationship with a boyfriend. Harrison Granger however, thinks differently and makes it his mission to convince Gemma that not only can he deal with her unusual calling, but also that he can love her.
The characters in this book - especially the main characters and their family members - truly seem to come alive in the expert hands of the author. That both main characters had perfectly normal, happy families was a pleasant change from the usual tragic circumstances in which so many key characters in other books find themselves.
Harrison is any girl's dream guy. No wonder Gemma is willing to break a two millennia old oath not to lose him. The budding romance between Gemma and Harrison is sweet and beautiful and tastefully described. Gemma's family however, is not very happy with the fact that she is dating a boy who is not one of their kind. I was extremely impressed by the mature way in which the lovers dealt with this.
“Golden Blood” is definitely not just a romance. As we follow Gemma from one dangerous mission to another, the suspense builds until Harrison gets involved. Then it becomes a nail-biting journey full of action and heart-stopping terror. It is a fantastic story which deserves more than its 5 stars and will have readers look forward to the next book in the series. (Ellen Fritz)
- Jenny Pox (The Paranormals, Book 1)
on May 12, 2012
I’ll come straight out and say it. This book blew me away. The first time I came across it on Amazon’s free downloads, I read the blurb and wasn’t impressed. Needles to say, I didn’t even bother downloading it. A few weeks later, one of my colleagues at work raved about this book and pretty much begged me to download it. Begrudgingly I did, and because said colleague and I share the same taste in certain genres of books, I started reading it right away.
The first thing that impressed me about “Jenny Pox” is how remarkably well author J.L. Bryan portrays his characters – each shaped with a true-to-life personality. The two main female leads are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum – one perfectly good and the other perfectly evil. It’s been a long while since I came across an antagonist whom I hated as passionately as I did this one.
But let me backtrack a little here. This book has three main characters, each with an extraordinary paranormal power and all of them with different back stories. My first impression when I read the blurb was that this was going to be another standard YA novel with loads of teenage angst and soppy romance. Four chapters into the book I could already tell that this was not going to be the case at all.
Jenny is a fantastic character! I loved her right from the start. Her “power” is such an inimitable and unusual one. She spent most of her life fearing and hiding it, but once she takes control of it, she kicks some serious butt. Ashleigh, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Jenny. She’s rich, popular, shockingly manipulative, and has a power I think most of us would kill to have. Yet, she uses hers for evil. She is one of those antagonists you just love to hate. J.L. Bryan did an outstanding job pitting these two girls’ strengths and weaknesses against each other, whilst at the same time making it easy for the reader to root for one and despise the other.
Of course Seth also needs a mention here. At first I didn’t know what to make of his character – should I love him or hate him? Another few chapters into the book, I decided I definitely like him; especially after I came to that part in the book about his one-of-a-kind power and how he uses it to save lives. Not only that, he’s also really nice, handsome, caring, rich, nice, handsome…..oh sorry, got carried away.
“The Paranormals” is an addictive new series which I will be enthusiastically raving about for months to come! I already got books two and three in this series long before I was half way through the first. Take my word for it. Once you’ve read the first book in this superhot new series, you won’t be able to resist reading anything written by J.L. Bryan.
on June 13, 2012
I have to admit that I couldn’t wait to start reading this book, as the cover completely stole my heart. The blurb held a lot of promise and I excitedly jumped right in and got to reading “Guardian”, the first opportunity I got. I felt slightly disappointed at the end, because the book didn’t meet my expectations.
I found the first half of the book to move at an excruciatingly slow pace, but once past Chapter thirteen, it picked up considerably and so much happens that it makes your head spin. I wasn’t too fond of Hannah though, as I’m not a big fan of characters who often have temper tantrums to get their point across. Similarly, I also wasn’t very impressed with Gabriel and Jesse’s characters either, as weak male characters aren’t to my liking. But that is just my personal taste.
Another let down for me was the bad editing, and I feel a really terrific editor would make a world of difference to this book. Overall – and bad editing aside – this is a well-written book with a really great storyline that intrigues the imagination from start to finish. The reader is taken on a journey into a world that spans over three hundred years, and gets to meet a plethora of supernatural beings and other wonderful and loveable secondary characters you can’t help rooting for.
Even though “Guardian” wasn’t much to my liking mainly due to the distracting grammar errors - and therefore the three stars; it is still a pleasant read that can be enjoyed by many fans of the YA paranormal genre.
- Midnight Hunter Book One in the Midnight Hunter Trilogy
on June 18, 2012
I had loads of fun reading this book. I can’t believe it was so far down in my to-be-read pile and it took me so long to get around to reading it. “Midnight Hunter” is a gorgeous, fun, lighthearted, sassy, sometimes terrifying, quick read!
I loved the main characters, but my very favorite character was Mo. She’s fun, hilarious, super feisty and brutally honest…and she has no problem belching loudly in public places. The camaraderie between her and Donna is a familiar one, formed by way only a childhood friendship can. These characters aren’t just likeable, they’re completely lovable. The dialogue between these two girls will at times have you in stitches. But I also have to stress here that the further I got into the story, I found that all is not what it seemed.
As much fun as it was being drawn into Donna’s world, and breaking out into hysterical laughter time and again at Mo’s antics, much of the story thoroughly freaked me out and had shivers running down my spine. You know those movies in which the cops in a small town go really bad and you can’t turn to them for help and they’re actually much scarier than the bad guys? This book will take you right there. And then you’ll get to the parts where some characters start acting all creepy…I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Really, there will be times while reading this novel, you’ll check under your bed - just to be safe.
Bonnie Bernard’s wonderfully quirky writing style is outright unique. Laced with laugh-out-loud humor and choc-full of adrenaline-pumping thrills and chills, the author proves to have a natural knack for taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride of different emotions.
So you, you and you! Whether you’re eighteen or eighty one, this book is for you. Give it a go and then come back here and thank me for enthusiastically for recommending this absolutely amazing five-star read!
- Thicker Than Blood (Marchwood Vampire Series #2)
on June 27, 2012
If Madison and Alexandre thought their troubles were over, they were sadly mistaken. In “Thicker than Blood” they, together with their families, are once again plunged into a world of adventure, danger and life threatening situations. On the other hand we have Elia's story which is set in sixth century Byzantium. Finally it looks as though we are going to get some answers to questions which arose in “Hidden”, the first book of the Marchwood Vampire series. Answers that fill us in on how exactly the vampires came to Byzantium and what caused the strange sleeping disease that had disabled so many vampires for fourteen centuries. Not having had much time to experience life as vampires when they were newly created in the nineteenth century, Alexandre and the other Marchwood vampires only knew that sunshine - and now ultra violet light - can kill them. In this book they also discover other dangers to their existence, as well as the possibility of being put back to sleep if they are not careful.
Once I started reading, I simply could not put this book down. With action and adventure and fear for these beloved characters' lives and well-being from the very first few pages, combined with suspense that just never lets up until the final page, it is not surprising that the author - who is a genius with cliff-hanger chapter endings - switches back and forth between sixth century Byzantium and modern day Cappadocia and England, with ease; thus ensuring that the reader keeps turning the pages.
The characters truly come to life - Alexandre, still the nineteenth century French aristocrat, Freddy, the British aristocrat of the same time period and on the modern end of the scale, Madison and her brother Ben. Add to this variety of characters a few sixth century individuals and the story is as colorful as it gets. As all the characters are realistic - not all good or bad - the suspense becomes unbearable when a traitor seems to be working with the enemy.
The author's comfortable story telling ability combined with her extremely neat writing, makes “Thicker than Blood” sheer pleasure to read. For those who love a bit of romance, the love between Madison and Alexandre is beautifully and tastefully described and will definitely touch your heart.
This thrilling and beautiful book deserves more than 5 stars, and will have the reader looking forward to many more from Shalini Boland. (Ellen Fritz)
- The Citizens
on July 13, 2012
This is definitely going to be on my top ten list of mindblowingly awesome reads of 2012. I’m not kidding. I was knocked off my feet by the downright intensity and splendid storyline of this book!
Other than for me to simply beg you to go get this book - no matter what the purchase price – and move it to the top of your to-be-read list, here are a few reasons why I can guarantee you’ll agree that this book should be either made into a tv series, or at the very least be nominated as one of the best fiction books published this year.
For starters, I’ve never read a paranormal book with this type of plot. It’s way past unique. It’s completely different and it keeps you guessing right from the start until the very end - and then some. That’s only one of the reasons why I couldn’t put this book down. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on or what was going to happen next. Talk about twists and turns; there’s absolutely no way you can predict the ending – and what a shocking and surprising ending it is! I’m a little upset that we’ll have to wait some time for the next book in the series, but like they say, good things are worth waiting for, right?
Secondly, you’ll love the characters. Initially you might not like all of them, but close to the end, they are no longer the same people they were at the start of the book; and once you’ve read the stunner ending, you’ll find that you’re disappointed to have to say goodbye to five characters who’ve become more like friends, instead of mere fictional characters.
Third, the plot in this book moves at a nice and steady pace. There’s never a dull moment, and with all that is happening in the story, it keeps you on the edge of your seat because you’re constantly expecting something dreadful to happen next. How can you not? You have five diverse characters trapped in a small town in the middle of who-knows-where, with absolutely no way out. Every time they try to escape, something awful happens to them. Oh, and there’s no-one else in the town with them…or is there?
Last, but not least, the author’s distinctive writing style engages, and keeps you guessing and pouring all your reading energy into a book that gives new meaning to the word “unputdownable” (which is not really a word in the dictionary, I know, but any bookworm will agree that it should be). The sincerity and genuineness of the characters draws you into the story and lets you experience their fear, confusion, anxiety, their hopelessness, but also their will to survive. In addition, there is plenty of heart-racing action in the last few chapters, and at one stage I thought to myself, “Eat your heart out Lara Croft”!
To sum my gush-fest up – this is an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind, read. L.M. Smith now has a new and devoted fan who will be reading all her future books. It’s a pity the highest star rating is only five, because I happily give this amazing book ten out of ten and a standing ovation!
- Yesterday's Daughter
on July 15, 2012
First off I have to say that the cover of this book is absolutely stunning. And guess what? So is the book!
From reading the blurb, I thought to myself “oh geez, not another vampire love story”. Surprise, surprise! It is another vampire story, but not just any vampire story. It’s a unique tale with a different set of vampires which breaks away from the norm and takes the reader into a wonderful new world with an unusual culture and set of rules, unlike any other vampire novel I’ve read in the past few months.
This author’s writing style is much different to that which I’m accustomed to, and it took me about two or three chapters to get into it; but for me it added to the beauty and style of the book. She also efficiently alternates between the different viewpoints of characters, and thus successfully avoids confusing the reader.
The main character, Grace (Sapphira), lives up to her name and really is a very “graceful” character. She has emotional boundaries that few other characters in the book can breach, but she lets the reader in on her thoughts and feelings, and into her world from page one. The second main character - and Grace’s love interest - Malachi is the epitome of everything we dream to see in the love of our lives. If you’re sick and tired of reading about perfect vampires, then this is the one that will have you falling madly in love with “perfect” all over again. I’m not going to spoil it and tell you why...
What also stood out for me and kept me turning the pages at a steady pace, was the background stories for each of the main role players. I found it fascinating, informative and it helped shape the characters so I could really get to know and understand them as I was following the story.
Why should you purchase this book or add it to your wishlist? Because it’s an action-packed, fast paced, sweet paranormal romance with unforgettable characters and a gripping plot with an ending that makes every minute spent reading this book worth it. And if that isn’t enough, the reader can also look forward to nail-biting intrigue, mystery, tons of secrets and the devil of it all – betrayal. The dialogue is superb and suits the characters and tone of the book perfectly. I won’t think twice giving this book to my dearest friends and family as a gift.
Taking into account that “Yesterday’s Daughter” is Sallie Lundy-Frommer’s debut novel and how splendidly it’s written, I am looking forward to seeing what she will offer her readers next. I found her elegant writing style unique and refreshing, and was left for days after finishing the book, with the same thought going through my mind again and again – this lady can write!
- The Wild (Book Four The Hayle Coven Novels)
on July 21, 2012
They say, be careful what you wish for, and in “The Wild” Sydlynn Hayle finds out exactly what that means. She had always wanted a normal life just like any other teenager. Now she has that; her demon taken from her and her magical power somehow bound. When Brad Peters - who had been attracted to her because of her magic and his own latent magic - dumps her, and Quaid Moromond seems to be ignoring her, she starts regretting her wish for normality. Add to this the frustration of not having her demon and her magic when the coven is in dire need of her help, and we have a very frustrated and sorry-for-herself young girl. The dreams that she and her friend Pain have, add an unexpected twist to an already exciting and suspenseful story.
As is usually the case with Patti Larsen's books, I simply could not put the book down. Apart from continuous action and nonstop suspense which kept me riveted, the author has a tremendously comfortable and easy-to-read way of telling the story. I particularly loved the quirky and often hilarious dialogue. Talk about hilarious, Syd's thoughts and inner dialogue had me howling with laughter. Even while thinking serious thoughts, Syd still has a funny way of expressing things to herself.
Except for normal developmental changes, the author kept all her characters' personalities consistent throughout the series so far. This helps the reader to love, understand and sympathize with all the characters - even the not so nice ones. She brilliantly integrates Syd's normal life of school, friends and boyfriends into her paranormal dealings with the coven, thus making the story so much more believable.
I would advise readers to get the first three books in the Hayle Coven Series before reading “The Wild”. A huge cheer for Patti Larsen for another beautifully told story and a well deserved five stars. (Ellen Fritz)
- Beautiful Demons (Peachville High Demons, #1)
on Aug. 17, 2012
This was a surprisingly short book. It’s what I call a candy floss read – quick, straightforward, and to the point. Don’t get me wrong though. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s filled with endless plot twists and keeps you guessing right up until the end, and still leaves a lot more to be continued in the next book of this series.
What really drew me into the story was the whole idea of a Stepford-like town where everything seems perfect on the outside, but has a sinister feel to it and a darkness brewing below the surface. Peachville has a high school cheerleading team who clearly isn’t what they seem to be and which will have chills running down your spine.
Of course I would get sucked into a story where the main character isn’t allowed to go up to the third floor of the house she just moved into. Instantly I was curious to know what was up there, and trust me when I tell you, it’s well worth the read to find out what is hidden up there, when she eventually goes up to the forbidden third floor.
The reader soon comes to realize that these are only the first impressions of a town obviously guarding generations of secrets, which I’m hoping will be unraveled throughout this series. “Beautiful Demons” is perfect for quick bedtime reading and I’ll definitely be reading the next book.
on Aug. 21, 2012
I started reading “Hollowland” in bed one night, and 02:30 AM the next morning I was still reading! I simply couldn’t put it down. So many things I loved about this book; where, oh where shall I start?
No other book has ever grabbed my interest from the very first sentence the way this one did. As a horror fan who is thrilled by post-apocalyptic zombie themed books, “Hollowland” hit the mark spot on. But these aren’t your usual brain-dead, brain- devouring kind of zombies. Noooooo, these are cunningly clever, dangerous zombies who can move at lightning fast speed. Oh, of course they love eating brains, but that’s not where their appetites end. Pretty scary, huh?
Apart from the zombie factor, there is a lot more to this book than merely running for your life. A dead, deserted and decaying Las Vegas; the most loveable, zombie-eating lion you’ll only get to meet in this book; believable and likeable characters; a freaky religious cult, marauders, an apocalypse which will make you happy to get back to reality once you can tear yourself away from this amazing book, and a tiny side-order of romance, are only a few of the elements which makes “Hollowland” an unforgettable experience. Yes, I say experience, because even though the plot moves at a rapid pace, the suspense is really what drives this story and keeps the reader glued to the pages. The superb writing created an atmosphere of dread which fed my fear for the characters’ lives. Every chapter – from the first to the last - was charged with foreboding and anxiety, but the author also deftly spun an underlying thread of hope for the reader to hold on to.
I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhanger endings, but I couldn’t have imagined a better way to have ended this book than the manner in which the author did. I’m burning with curiosity to see what happens next with the survivors in book two, but I also feel that a lot of questions were answered in this book and loose ends were tied up nicely at the end.
This is beyond a doubt an addictive read and I now understand why Amanda Hocking’s books have sold millions of copies. I can’t wait to read them all!
- Shared Emptiness
on Aug. 23, 2012
I’m not quite sure what I expected from this book, but I got much more than I anticipated. The closer I got to the final chapter, the more I wanted the story not to end, because I got so wrapped up in the lives of the many different characters, their world became very real to me. This is one of those stories which takes the reader through every emotion conceivable. It even had me questioning some of my own views and opinions – not only on the matter of euthanasia, but also other topics that are touched on throughout the book, such as abortion, suicide, and extra-marital affairs, to name a few. One thing is certain though: other than “The Help” by author Kathryn Stockett, I’ve never before read a book that moved me as deeply as this one did.
I admire the way in which the author skillfully uses emotion and logic to emphatically tackle the controversial topic of euthanasia, and how deftly he provides insight into both sides of the argument for and against mercy death. The reader gets the perspective of the family, the Catholic Church, and the medical profession; each with conflicting views on a widely debated subject that not only is of consequence to the victim, but also to loved ones.
In no way did the author favor one view over the other and I was often left questioning my own views on this issue and feeling undecided as to what I would do if I was in the same situation and had to make such impossible decisions. Would I want to “live” in a vegetative comatose state for as long as my body held out, or would I want – for their sake and mine – my loved ones to pull the plug on the machine keeping me alive? If it is someone I love, would I let him “live” or would I be showing kindness by pushing the respirator’s “off” button? The answer seems simple, doesn’t it? But after reading this book and seeing it through the eyes of a mother, father, sister, girlfriend and other extended family members, doctors who’ve sworn an oath to let live, and a Church unfaltering in its dogma, the answer no longer seems so straightforward.
I applaud the author for the manner in which he brought both main and secondary characters to life by giving each their own back-story and having all of them facing unbridgeable obstacles, as well as their own personal demons. The families portrayed in this novel are dysfunctional in every sense of the word. I easily identified with their fears and daily struggles, and once I was halfway through the book, most of them had already crept snugly into my heart.
Written with emotional insight and compassion, it is clear that the author did in-depth research so as to be able to make the reader feel every emotion, as well as the hopelessness and uncertainty each character experienced. Although I’m giving this superb book a five star rating for a moving plot that oftentimes left me shaken and teary-eyed, it’s still in need of some editing. “Shared Emptiness” is a page-turner that will have a different reflective effect on every reader, leaving you with a multi-layered story and imperfect characters that won’t soon be forgotten.
- Photo Finish
on Aug. 27, 2012
If you are looking for a thrilling but relaxing and humorously written book, “Photo Finish” is the perfect book for you. Not only does it have a cleverly constructed plot, it also boasts a colorful cast of brilliantly realistic characters. For a very pleasant and refreshing change, the main character, Wilson McKenna, is not a young, drop-dead gorgeous hunk but an older man. Said older man does however still have a very healthy appetite for attractive females - an appetite that very nearly gets him killed. When the elderly and rather deaf Meyer Herschel joins McKenna in the investigation, the stage is set for a very entertaining story. Oh, and let's not forget the ancestors who appear in the dreams of several characters to have their wise say in the matter.
Despite the seriousness of murder and drug running, I smiled and giggled my way through this book. Although the unraveling of the whole mystery seems somewhat passive during the first two thirds of the book, the humorous, witty narration more than makes up for lack of action. When the pace picks up in the last few chapters however, the nerve wrecking suspense and constant action had me biting my nails and cheering for the good guys.
Descriptions of nature and local Hawaiian legend and culture make this book an interesting and exciting read for the arm chair traveler as well as those who like a relaxing, light hearted mystery. Add to all this that the book is neatly written and well edited and I happily give Photo Finish 5 stars. Let's hope that we'll soon see more books by this highly gifted author. (Ellen Fritz)
- Dawn of the Hunter - Book Two
on Aug. 29, 2012
I loved the first book in this series! I loved the author’s wit and quirky writing, loved the characters and especially loved Mo. Naturally, I was looking forward to reading book two and I wasn’t disappointed.
Meeting up with now familiar characters from the first book in this series, was a blast! In “Dawn of the Hunter” the reader also gets to meet bad-ass demon Howie Evil – a last name which suits him perfectly. Howie is mean, favors guns to humans, has an appetite for human souls, is touchy about his ride, and his favorite demon is…well…Howie. Like it or not, Howie grows on you and soon he was one of my absolute favorite characters. I especially enjoyed his and Mo’s sarcastic, confrontational interactions.
Donna once again proved to be a strong, take-charge character who kicks demon butt and who is a pillar of strength for her family. I absolutely adored Mo’s character in the first book because of her spunk and cynicism, and in this book she manages to take it up a notch, especially with Howie now in the picture. Cassie is another new character the reader will either love or hate. She hiccups when in distress, and is the proud owner of Thrasher – the meanest cat this side of hell.
I enjoyed the story, the plot twists, the action, the in-your-face humor, and getting to be part of these characters’ lives again, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
- Project ELE
on Sep. 05, 2012
Twenty-six pages into this book I was already crying my heart out. Thanks to the authors’ remarkable writing, I got attached to Willow and her family in a span of only a few pages. You’re probably wondering why I cried while reading the second chapter of this book, right? Well, all I can tell you is that no parent should be expected to make such a choice as the one Willow’s parents had to make.
I’m still new to post-apocalyptic novels, but this book smacked my reader curiosity spot on. “Project ELE” fits perfectly into the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it category, and the plot intrigued me from the start. Reading about our world in a time where the sun is burning the earth to a crisp through the holes in the ozone layer, isn’t too far from the truth, and it forces you to consider the horrific possibility of trying to survive in such a devastating climate. The authors took this scenario and put a few interesting twists on it, creating the F.E.M.A shelter in a dying world, but with a plethora of new possibilities within the safety of the shelter where Willow and her friends attempt to adjust to a new way of life as well as their newfound powers.
The shelter Willow and her friends had to move to in order to survive, really captured my imagination. Living inside a mountain for months on end, with only a few of the amenities found in today’s world, secret underground locations discovered by her and her posse, and their developing paranormal abilities, kept my interest throughout the book. A bunch of twists leading up to a shocking, cliffhanger ending, has me excited to read the next book in this series.
“Project ELE” is an intensely unique and enjoyable read. It captures the imagination and invites the reader to explore a post-apocalyptic setting with a multitude of secrets, discoveries and a good dose of betrayal. Think scientific experiments, mostly likeable but also some creepy characters, paranormal abilities, hidden passageways and caverns deep inside a mountain; and then throw into the mix a fat helping of action, suspense, and romance, and you’re onto a winner. A must-read for paranormal romance fans of all ages!
- Dark Bites: Part 4 - 848
on Sep. 12, 2012
If you’re not a horror fan, stay far far away from this book. It will give you chills and might keep you awake a few nights. I, on the other hand, am a big fan of the horror genre, so naturally I loved this 15-minute, quick read novella. Part of an anthology, “848” preyed on my worst fears and as horrifying as it was, I couldn’t stop reading. As someone who suffers from claustrophobia and a fear of falling elevators, what the main character had to endure was absolutely terrifying. The thought of lying helpless at the bottom of an elevator shaft in an abandoned building, is enough to give anyone nightmares. What really kept me rooting for this character was her will to survive and in the short space of only 28 pages, the author had me experiencing the same agonizing fear the main character did.
This ghost story is the perfect bedtime read, but I have to warn you again that if horror is not your thing, you will find this short story quite disturbing. For me, it was well worth the read and a terrifyingly thrilling fifteen minutes of my time.
- Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO
on Sep. 22, 2012
A new twist on a zoo visit, this short story was something completely different from what I’ve ever read before! But if I say too much, I’ll be giving it all away so I’ll keep my review short. This is not a read for squeamish readers, so if you can’t handle gore, then give this one a miss. For hardcore horror fans – such as myself – this novella is a delightful little treat. No plot twists, character development or doe-eyed lovers. Nope. Purely sixteen pages of all-out nail biting thrills and chills. A quick read that shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes of your time, “Please DO Feed the Animals Zoo” will leave you thinking of zoos much differently.
- The Lost Soul: The Raven Saga Part III
on Oct. 08, 2012
With never a dull moment in this book, I would definitely call “The Lost Soul” a page turner. December and Jack are trying to communicate telepathically at the cost of severe headaches; a beautiful woman is seducing all the human men in town, and all the supernaturals are searching for Jemima - the beautiful and popular cheerleader who is thought to be dead. All this being only the tip of a very big paranormal iceberg, just add a lost fairy, caves full of nephilim, and…oh yes, a pterodactyl - and voila! A suspense-laden work of art.
This enthralling third book in the Raven Saga had me rooted to my chair until I had read the very last word. There are numerous well crafted characters - many of them supernatural races - and still the book is so skilfully written that the reader isn’t easily confused about who is who. The frequent shifts in point of view adds to the suspenseful atmosphere and gives the reader an idea of what is happening on all fronts. A touch of romance, especially that between Lily and Oliver, brings a beautiful sweetness to the story. The author maintains just the perfect balance between action, tender moments and humor and yet there are several moments for which you may want to have the Kleenex close by.
For a masterpiece of nail-biting suspense, riveting action and beautiful tender moments, “The Lost Soul” is an absolute must-read. I would, however, advise readers to read the first two books in the Raven Saga first before they read this fantastic book suitable for readers of all ages. I happily give it five stars! (Ellen Fritz)
- Ziggy Two Step - Courier Extraordinaire
on Oct. 18, 2012
The blurb didn’t really grab my attention, so I begrudgingly started reading this novella, expecting something mediocre and dull. Well, I was only somewhat disappointed. The story started out well enough and the first half was fun to read, but the rest of the story felt like crashing down from an adrenaline high. The last half of the story lost its momentum and left me with the impression that the author was either losing interest, or was unsure which direction to go with the conclusion. Thus the ending is especially disappointing.
Ziggy Two Step is an interesting and fairly likeable character, but rather one-dimensional. The trouble he obliviously gets into is quite hilarious. The basis of this short story is unique, and had it been a full-length novel, it easily would’ve had a bigger impact. But the author tried too hard to squeeze a multi-layered plot into a few pages, which resulted in underdeveloped characters, and a plot with so much potential, simply falling flat.
Overall, “Ziggy Two Step – Courier Extraordinaire” is a rather enjoyable read with lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and since it’s free for download, worth the thirty minutes it takes to read. It is, however, in serious need of more editing.
- Oceans of Red Volume One
on Nov. 14, 2012
I haven’t read a Willow Cross novel in a while, and I’ve quite honestly forgotten how well this author writes. Although it is apparent that she writes with the YA reader in mind, her books are suitable for older readers as well. “Rise of the Demons” is no different. In the span of forty pages, the author manages to successfully create a post-apocalyptic-like world a few years into the future where humans are being used as vessels by demons who are in the throes of taking over the world. Remy and her two siblings fight these demons as a measure to save whatever is left of humanity. In the process Remy discovers that she’s more than what she seems, and quite possibly the one to save the human race.
With three butt-kicking characters and a strong story line with a cliffhanger ending that promises more action, suspense, and shocking revelations in the next installment in this series, you definitely can’t go wrong to get your hands on this gripping novella. Fast moving and unrelenting, “Rise of the Demons”, will keep you rooted to the edge of your seat from start to end!
- The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series, Book 1)
on Dec. 27, 2012
I truly and thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Fallen Star”! Gemma, the main character, is still learning to deal with her newly awakened emotions, when Alex and his sister, Aislin, arrive at school. With their arrival, Gemma's life changes as she discovers that magic, witches, vampires and the monsters from her nightmares are real. As though that is not enough, she also starts having visions and becomes aware of some painful, scary secrets concerning her background. In the end she does not know who to believe or trust and betrayal becomes a nasty reality.
This book hooked me from the very first paragraph. Non-stop action, nail-biting suspense and monsters that can freeze their victim to death, kept me turning the pages. The well-crafted characters are realistic and their interaction can be highly amusing as well as touching. Gemma's inner dialogue had me smiling most of the time and her smart mouth made me laugh out loud.
The light romance between Gemma and Alex is tastefully worked into the story. Amidst the action and monster dodging there is also a fair amount of sadness that definitely brought tears to my eyes.
“The Fallen Star” is, however, not just all action and monster fighting but also about coming to terms with betrayal and the testing of loyalties. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages and, as it ends with a magnificent cliff hanger, I, for one, can't wait to get hold of the next book in this series. Five Stars and a thumbs up for “The Fallen Star” and an excellent author! (Ellen Fritz)
- Night Marchers, Written by: Rebecca Gober and Courtney Nuckels
on Jan. 02, 2013
I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for somewhere close to ten months now, and I was really looking forward to reading it as I’ve read the first book in their Project ELE series and loved it. My impression of the blurb was promises of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and maybe a few chills. At least, that’s what I thought I was going to find in this story when I read the blurb before I downloaded this book. Alas, what I got instead was something completely different.
Let’s see. First half of the book details Emma falling in love with Tristan. Yes, it takes 50% of the book for Emma and Tristan to meet up and fall in love. Now, y’all know I’m not a fan of romance, right? I was curious to read about the Night Marchers though, so I persevered and kept reading. Another 30% then details Emma and Kai falling in love. Sigh. OK, we’re past 80% and the Night Marchers got a few pages mention, but only as an intro for Kai to save Emma so they can fall in love. The last 20% of the book is where it picks up and gets interesting (but still interspersed with Kai’s romantic overtures and Emma berating herself for being in love with two “cute” guys at the same time). The only interesting part about the last few chapters of the book were the Menehues – a city built inside a cave with little people as its citizens. That was a really nice touch and I applaud the authors for their creativity with this.
***end of spoiler***
The characters – specifically Emma, Tristan, Kaylee, and Kai – were pretty standard characters. I kind of liked Emma, but the sappy romance really just wasn’t for me. The colorful backdrop and setting in which the story takes place, was lush and well-described. I could clearly see every single detail of the island and this made it easy for me to place myself in the story right beside Emma. Overall the writing was okay, but it’s definitely in need of some editing. A lot of the time, the dialogue felt forced and awkward, especially between Emma and her father, and made me want to cringe. Although Night Marchers ended with a cliff-hanger ending, it wasn’t enough to get me curious about the conclusion in the second book titled Redemption. From the blurb I was expecting something different, but instead had to sit through a romance novel, and the Night Marchers were a mere mention in the background and used as filler to transition between scenes.
Fans of books loaded with summer romance and “cute” boy-next-door type of characters to make your heart go on a wild gallop, will absolutely love this book. Readers who, like me, expect a plot with twists, dark magic, secrets or legends, voodoo or some kind of island witchery, will be disappointed. My recommendation is that you download this book (it’s free, after all) for when you’re in need of a light bedtime read.
on Jan. 29, 2013
When I started this book, I went into it with low to zero expectations. I’ve read Before You Go by this same author awhile ago, and even though the writing was good, I wasn’t too impressed with the story or its characters. Once I got to the second chapter of Stained though, I was hooked.
As far as paranormal romances go, the plot isn’t really new or unique, but it is exciting and in the first two thirds of the book there is a lot of action and enough vagueness which raises loads of questions and keeps you turning the pages to find the answers. Ella James’s writing flows easily and she manages to draw the reader into the story by slowly unveiling the background stories of the two main characters, which of course adds more twists and secrets to the plot.
However, as much as I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of Stained, I felt that in some places the story was rushed and there were quite a few jumps in logic. Certain things didn’t make sense to me at all and although I found the dream sequences to be imaginative and mysterious, they were also lengthy and didn’t add anything to the development of the story. I also found it strange that a two-hundred-year old character doesn’t know how to drive, but he masters this skill in less than two days and outruns the villains on the interstate, driving like a pro.
Stained is the first book in the Stained Series, so I’m guessing most of the questions I still had unanswered by the end of the book, will probably be addressed in one of the next books in this series. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and although Julia’s character got on my nerves from time to time, I still liked her as she acted the way a real seventeen-year old would. Cayne - mood-swings and all - is definitely worth the read too. Overall, this is a quick and enjoyable read, nothing too series. Judging by everything that had happened in this book, the rest of the series looks promising and I highly recommend it to paranormal romance addicts. Now I’m looking forward to reading Ella James’s Here.
- Bound, An Arelia LaRue Novel #1 YA Paranormal Romance
on Feb. 23, 2013
The first thing that cemented my interest in this novel was the way it was written. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the end result is that I absolutely loved this story and I can’t wait to read the second and third books, which the author had also gifted me.
Apart from the flowing- and meticulous writing, the story itself was intriguing and full of interesting facts about hoodoo and voodoo. By the end of the story I understood that there is a difference between hoodoo and voodoo, and I now know why voodoo is shrouded in so much mystery. In this story we also get to know the different types of spirits and what they do. It was interesting to note that a voodoo queen should not view these spirits as gods, or they’ll never allow her to treat them as equals. Right from the start when Arelia and Sabrina arrive at Darkwood Plantation, the story takes on an eerie and sinister feel. The spirits communicating with Arelia at unexpected intervals, added to the suspense.
Everything in this book is unpredictable. I expected the atmosphere at Darkwood Plantation to send chills down my spine round every corner as the story progressed, but although there is a consistent sense of foreboding, the author keeps the reader riveted by painting this palatial home as an ordinary one; albeit one opulently decorated in rich colors, expensive furniture and chandeliers, and exquisite gardens that will take your breath away. The reader never really knows whether to be afraid or not. The beauty and ordinariness of the house is balanced by a family cemetery, slave quarters and an allegedly haunted swamp - where you can still hear the slaves of a hundred years ago, sing - situated on the same grounds as the plantation house.
A cast of characters varying in personalities also added a lot to the overall feel of the story. There is Lucus, who hides a terrifying secret; Sabrina, the spoiled and annoying rich friend of Ariela; Ben, the cute kid who crawls into your heart and who is ignored by his parents; the obnoxious Mr Dumpty who refers to himself as “a fat guy from New York” and who is every young girl’s worst nightmare; Ivan, the handsome waiter with a bad attitude; and so many more characters who will leave a lasting impression – good or bad – on the reader.
One of my favorite parts – proving again that nothing can be predicted in this story – was when Lucus offered Ariela something to eat in the middle of the night, and she challenged him to make fried Oreos. I was intrigued at this, as I’ve never heard of fried Oreos before, and Lucus’s reaction after he tasted it made for some side-splitting laughter. I recommend this book to all who is fascinated by Louisiana voodoo, its myths, and a story built on the historic slave trade. Although Bound does not build up to a climatic finale, it is filled with enough mystery to keep the reader absorbed till the last page has been devoured. At less than hundred pages it is a wonderful quick read.
- Lichgates (Grimoire Saga #1)
on April 27, 2013
Lichgates captivated me from the start and took me on a fantastic journey into incredible worlds with wonderful, if sometimes scary, creatures and people. If you see a flash of blue from the corner of your eye and feel a kicking sensation in your gut, know that you might have just passed from the world as you know it into the extremely different world of Ourea. This is what happens to Kara just before her life changes forever. Still grieving for her recently deceased mother and worried about her father, Kara is unprepared for the storm of action, suspense, frightening experiences and highly dangerous responsibility that is about to enter her life. Along with Braeden, heir to the Stelian throne, she embarks on a complicated mission as the new vagabond.
I found the author's world building to be easily the strongest feature of this book. What an imagination! Although she includes known mythical creatures like griffons, dragons, and centaurs, she also adds a vast selection of her own unique creations. Two headed dogs that can serve as weapons as well as transport, and a creature that can pass through solid walls with riders on its back, are just some of these magnificent beings living in the kingdoms of Ourea.
The truly bad guys, the Stelians, who seem to be into destruction, torture and control; and the soul stealing Isen make Ourea an unpleasant and extremely dangerous place to live in. The Yakona kingdoms, the Hillsidians, Ayavelians, Kirelms, and Lossians have their own problems and selfish goals. All this combined make the vagabond's mission to bring peace to the realm a very difficult one. The only beings who seem to be able to really assist her are the drenowith, shape shifting muses with some awesome powers. The question is: will they?
Kara has this to say about this torn and dangerous world:
"I'm starting to wonder if there's anything in Ourea worth saving."
The author does character development throughout the story and, at least the two main characters, Kara and Braeaden, show growth in their personalities by the end of this book. I highly recommend Lichgates to readers who want to go on a fantastic journey of beautiful but dangerous worlds. This is a thrilling five star read which you don't want to miss! (Ellen Fritz)
- Delilah Dusticle
on June 17, 2013
While Delilah Dusticle isn’t a read you’ll remember a year from now, it is a delightfully sweet and sincere novella about a girl who moved to London, got her heart broken, and eventually made a friend who shared her fears, sadness and joy. This newfound friendship also helped Delilah to see what is important, take control of her life again and even start her own business. Most authors can’t manage such a fulfilling and touching little story in the span of thirty-three pages, but A.J. York does it magnificently. Now I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure, releasing later this year. This is most definitely a perfect fifteen-minute bedtime read before drifting off to dreamland with a smile on your face.
on June 20, 2013
If there’s something that frightens me in a paranormal story, that would be ghosts - the whole flickering lights, knocking on the walls, and cold, evil presences - Gravity has it all and more! Ariel Donovan, the main character, is literally haunted in her dreams by her friend, Jenna, who disappeared mysteriously. When these visions start happening when Ariel is dizzy or unconscious and she starts catching glimpses of more recently disappeared people, Ariel knows that something ominous – even evil, is going on and that she has to do something about it. The ability to see ghosts that Ariel might have inherited from her grandmother is, however, not as glamorous and exciting as people may think.
Although action, spine-chilling incidents and moments of true suspense are liberally spread throughout the story, the true magic of Gravity for me lay in the absolutely scary, spooky descriptions of hauntings and the things Ariel sees and experiences. The author's highly realistic descriptions managed to create a sinister atmosphere that had me closing the book well before dark.
Even though the characters are well crafted and believable, the male protagonist, Henry Rodes, irritated me a bit with his rapid and frequent attitude changes. Ariel however, disagrees with me and finds him the personification of all her romantic fantasies; to the point that it got on my nerves. Apart from this mild annoyance the author kept her characters within their age group and allowed them to still be kids. This story focuses on the problems that teenagers have with popularity, pressure from parents, favoritism from teachers and financial and social standing within the community. I found some of this truly heart breaking and especially so for the under dogs. Although the story has an underlying tone of sadness and loss to it, there fortunately are times that you will laugh out loud.
Gravity is one of those books that keeps you guessing right up to the end and would be a suitable read for young adults as well as adults who love a good, suspenseful ghost story. (Ellen Fritz)
- Guardians: The Girl
on Aug. 09, 2013
As books about angels and demons are just my favorite in the fantasy genre, I truly enjoyed reading The Girl, first in the Guardians series. While attempting to save a wounded man at her school, Emerson is attacked. Two fellow students, Miku and Rio, come to her rescue. Soon Emmy learns that not only are they angels and a part of a group called Guardians, but also that the survival of the world as we know it depends on her, Emerson Baxter.
This comfortably paced novel combine what is generally known about angels and demons with the author's own unique and highly imaginative inventions. Although these Guardians are angels, they can and do make mistakes, they have normal desires and needs and they can be tempted into using their powers for things that are off limits. This made me like them so much more than the perfect angel image so often created by writers.
The bad guys or Akons on the other hand - aptly named Chaos, Mayhem, Agony, Rage, War and Frenzy, are thoroughly and completely evil. They cheat, torture, destroy and don't care who gets hurt in the cross-fire, whereas the Guardians are never allowed to take human lives. Then there are the Sellers, the proverbial grey area, who are mainly evil but could do good when they choose to.
Emmy, the main character, put me off at first. She seemed to have a very dull, weak personality and once she starts crushing on the first Guardian, Marcus, she seems to be so obsessed that the world could go "boom" and she wouldn't notice. Add to that the fact that she cried for any and everything and I thought we had a weak female lead in the book. That is until Ameana, the second Guardian, tells her:
“Your courage is in your tears. Every time you cry, you lose a little bit more of it. That’s why you’re so breakable. Not because you’re human, because you’re always shedding courage from your eyes.”
Fortunately Emmy toughens up early in the book and displays remarkable strength of character and determination to do whatever it takes to save the world from hell and damnation.
The story takes the reader from highly exciting scenes of fighting to a very sad angel funeral; from tender romantic moments to descriptions of extreme torture. Woven into this are the angel politics and intrigue as well as an angel gossip paper which adds a humorous side to the book.
I, for one, am looking forward to reading more about the Guardians, Emerson Baxter, their effort to save the world and the open ended romantic possibilities between Emmy and Marcus. (Ellen Fritz)