Leanne Goon


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Smashwords book reviews by Leanne Goon

  • Angel Evolution on Feb. 14, 2012

    *Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author Angel Evolution was a fast-paced read, which I finished in two sittings. The story opens up with the introduction of college student, Taylor, and her dreams of being bitten by a black snake and seeing two men - one who helps her, and the other who hurts her. Her real-life encounter with Gabriel, an angel, and Chris, a demon, parallels her dream, and the question arises - which one is good and which one is evil? Estes writes from multiple points-of-view (Taylor, Gabriel, Chris, etc.) while we see Taylor’s search for an answer to this question. Although some readers may find this distracting or confusing, I thought it helped give more dimension to the two main male characters. In addition, I enjoyed Estes’ fresh twist on the angel versus demon theology, in which the typical roles are reversed and not related to religion, but to evolution as the title of the book indicates. I thought he did well in establishing the organization of the angels and demons and their battles with each other. On the other hand, I found myself liking the secondary romance between Taylor’s best friend, Sam, and Chris better than that of Taylor and Gabriel, the main couple. I felt that Taylor’s and Gabriel’s relationship was not well developed enough, such that I didn’t find myself going through the same emotions as Taylor. The immature dialogue also attributed to my being a bit distanced to the characters and plot. The good thing is that the writing and plot improve near the end of the book, such that I was more engaged and interested in seeing what happened with them and her unique role in the war. Overall, Angel Evolution was a solid attempt at a first novel in a new series. Although I wasn’t blown away by, I think it shows enough promise and a great cliffhanger ending to warrant reading the next book in the series, Demon Evolution. I would recommend this to young adult readers, who are fans of paranormal romances.
  • Five on Feb. 27, 2012

    *Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author; **More like 3.5 stars; also posted on Amazon.com under Leanne Five is told by the point-of-view of Rayla, a young woman running away from her overbearing aunt to college, who suddenly discovers she is an Elemental – one who can bond with a fae lord in order to combine their powers to rule. Because the lords can sense Elementals, she becomes the object of pursuit of five fae very quickly. These fae each have a specialty in an element of which there are five: water, earth, fire, air, and ether (spirit), and they bond for five of a human’s lifetimes (hence, the three-fold meaning to the book’s title). Rayla must figure out firstly, if she wants to bond and secondly, which one to bond to. This is despite the strong compulsion she feels for each one and that, at any time, they can kidnap her to Faeresia to bond against her will. Rich opens up with this intriguing premise, but I started getting a little frustrated with the character development. I noticed Rayla was too accepting of the existence of Elementals and fae (ascertained on a phone call from her aunt), and not suspicious enough of the new men in her life, especially Zach. She was unrealistically too trusting of him and did not question his reluctance to tell his entire knowledge of and personal connection to the fae, which are at odds with her vulnerable position. In addition, I felt her relationship to her best friend, Cassie, was disingenuous, and seemed more antagonistic than anything. Lastly, the sudden romances that emerges with certain characters appeared forced and manufactured, almost like convenient filler material. On the other hand, I did like certain components of Five and it did improve with further chapters. I liked the characters of Adam, Jessica, and Natalie, who were more authentic and compelling, and I hoped for more storyline with them. Likewise, the last few scenes with Luke, a fae lord, seemed quite sincere and captivating – I found myself supporting him to be bonded with Rayla and through these scenes, Rich was able to bring in more background information on fae history and realm. In addition, I especially appreciated Rich’s introduction of a secret human alliance with the fae for the procurement of Elementals and conversely, a secret Elemental group to protect and hide themselves from the fae. I thought this gave the plot a much needed depth to the world-building, and tension to the plot, helping to set up the sequel. Overall, Five was a fast read and an ambitious attempt by Rich at a first novel in a new series. I think it did have an interesting world concept and enough unanswered questions and plot developments to warrant reading the next book in the series. I would recommend this to young adult readers, who are fans of paranormal/fae romances, but not necessarily older adults.
  • Survival, a YA Paranormal Romance (The Guardians of Vesturon Series, Book #1) on Feb. 27, 2012

    *Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author; **Also posted on Amazon.com under Leanne Survival is the story of Maddie, a 19-year old attending college after losing both parents at a young age, who becomes the victim of a serial killer and is rescued by an alien race called the Vesturions. The novel is divided into four books, 1) mostly Maddie’s point-of-view up to when she is recuperating from her ordeal, 2) mostly Rayn’s point-of-view, the Guardian who rescues her, 3) mostly 3rd person narrative of the romance that continues after Maddie is healed, and 4) mostly 3rd person narrative of the events that occur during their separation when Rayn must answer to the Vesturion Council for daring to mate with a human. I liked how Hargrove divided the book in four parts, but felt that the first book (~40% of the novel) was a bit disjointed. This was due to the switch from Maddie’s POV to 3rd person narrative to the serial killer’s (Darryl) POV. The storyline did not seem to flow well and the dialogue was a bit off; for example, when Maddie talks about her past to new friends at college, the words she used appeared to be more mature than her years, even flat at times. This appeared to be Hargrove’s method to tell the reader Maddie’s past experiences, but unfortunately did not provoke a strong emotional response, which I believed was a lost opportunity to relate/bond to the protagonist. This was also apparent with Darryl’s section – again I think Hargrove could have evoked more horror and revulsion of his personal history better by “showing” rather than “telling”. The switching POVs also augmented the lack of connection with the characters. On the other hand, I did like the remaining books of Survival. I was delighted in learning more of the Venturion race as I appreciated Hargrove’s detailed descriptions. In addition, I took delight in reading about Rayn’s family, especially his brother, Rykerian, and his sister, Sharra, who had an amusing tendency to mix up human slang and figures of speech. The integration of Maddie into Rayn’s home was hilarious at times and positively charming. Hargrove was able to create a Maddie that was more endearing to the reader and I found myself becoming more emotionally involved in the story. The last three books were a refreshing and welcome contrast to the first book. Overall, Survival was an interesting read with an unusual twist – aliens versus the numerous vampire and werewolf books currently flooding the stores. I enjoyed the interplay with most of the characters. With the tense cliffhanger at the end, I plan to read the next book in the series, Resurrection. I would recommend this to young adult readers, who are fans of Twilight and similar series, but not necessarily older adults.
  • Resurrection, a YA Paranormal Romance (The Guardians of Vesturon Series, Book 2) on March 04, 2012

    *Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author; **Also posted on Amazon.com under Leanne Resurrection continues the story of Maddie Pearce and Rayn Yarrister from the first book of the Guardians of Vesturon series, Survival. It begins where Survival left off, with the kidnapping and torture of Maddie at the hands of the serial killer, Darryl. As done previously, Hargrove divides the novel into four books, 1) Maddie’s rescue by Rayn’s brothers and her recuperation, 2) Rayn’s trial on Vesturon with the Council of Elders, the discovery of the conspirators, and the revelation of Maddie’s heritage, 3) Maddie’s exploration of her newfound abilities, and separation from Rayn, 4) Rayn’s rescue, the end of the conflict with the Xanthians (another race), and the conclusion of Maddie’s and Rayn’s relationship. Hargrove definitely improved her writing with this book. Firstly, she stuck with a third person narrative throughout the novel, which made the reading of it more consistent and the plot more streamlined. This was in contrast to Survival, where we had multiple POVs, which confused the reader and resulted in disjointed sections throughout the book. Secondly, the character of Maddie underwent drastic development as she transitioned from a human female saved by Rayn and reliant on his family to becoming a much more independent young woman with her own strengths and point of view (hence the title, Resurrection). It was heartwarming and satisfying to see her lose her clumsiness and shyness and grow into a confident woman who could face obstacles without Rayn’s support; e.g. I cheered when she assertively stood up for herself against a bully at the academy and when she made defining decisions in her relationship with Rayn. At the same time, Hargrove managed to maintain Maddie’s charm and wholesomeness despite her transformation. Lastly, I appreciated Hargrove’s ambitious integration of multiple sub-plots with the introduction of new characters, which further illustrated the inner workings of the Guardians and the dynamics within the Yarrister family. Overall, Resurrection was a delightful sequel, which answered many questions about the Guardians of Vesturon, the relationship between Maddie and Rayn, and Maddie’s role in her new home. Hargrove ends the story with an unexpected twist involving Rykerian, enough of a teaser to definitely interest me in reading the third book, as I love his character and believe he deserves a book of his own. I would recommend this to young adult readers, who are fans of Twilight and of the first book, Survival.
  • A Marked Past on April 09, 2012

    *Received e-book from author for an honest review **Also posted on Amazon.com under Leanne A Marked Past is told by the point-of-view of Lyla Mercer, an ordinary teenager, whose life is turned upside down with the tragic death of her father. Her mother moves her back to her father’s ancestral home in Salem, where she learns that her family has a legacy of being chosen (or “marked” in the form of tattoos on their bodies) to hold special powers. Her Uncle Nathan explains that the man who started the Salem Witch Trials, Samuel Parris, is still alive and has devoted himself to eradicating the Mercer family and others with the same witchlike powers, including her father. Lyla must learn to control her new powers and defend her loved ones and herself against Parris before he comes for them. First, the things I liked about the book. I felt Deaton did a commendable job creating and describing the Mercer family legacy and the centuries-old battle with Parris. I thought that was a unique take in witch-related plots and gave the story palpable tension and suspense. I also loved the character of Hana, Lyla’s cousin, who was more of an outsider at school with her Goth looks and more open with Wiccan beliefs. I admired her courage in the face of a bully and, although vulnerable, still fought for herself and her family. On the other hand, I didn’t think Lyla was that likeable. She irritated me at times with her moody personality and inconsistencies with her actions. Since she was devoted to protecting her family from Parris and his “minions”, I couldn’t believe her blatantly ignoring several signs of danger, mainly for her own selfish reasons. In addition, I wasn’t engaged in her romance with Caleb, even though I thought Caleb was an interesting character that could have been more developed by Deaton. Lastly, I thought the final scenes involving a confrontation with Parris were a little drawn out and anti-climatic. Overall, A Marked Past was a well-paced, interesting read with a few flaws. I don’t know if I would continue the series, but I would recommend this book to teen fans of YA paranormal fiction, such as the 13 to Life series by Shannon Delany.
  • Dangerous on April 11, 2012

    *Received e-book through Read It and Reap program from the Shut Up and Read! Goodreads group from author for an honest review **also posted on Amazon.com under Leanne Dangerous is told by the point-of-view of Ria Milanez, a privileged university student, who holds the element of fire. In this alternate world, magic has always been present, with people being gifted by the God of Magic with one element. The only caveat for this gift was that the elements remain “pure” and unmixed by not breeding with different elementals. As people broke this rule, magic disease carriers (those with no element) emerged, and they had the ability to infect others through sexual contact and kill others in order to steal their elements for themselves. Although the stolen element would fade with time, magic disease carriers could and most likely would continue killing to replenish their magic and this made them feared by the uninfected. Ria has grown up in an upper class family, one with a very pure elemental line, and with the belief that magic disease carriers should be feared and isolated from the general magic population. As she attends school, her beliefs are questioned and contested as she develops feelings for a water elemental, Michael, and when she encounters a famous magic disease carrier, Adrian. I thought Linwood was quite successful in creating an intriguing world with a distinctive concept. It was clever of her to use a prologue-type introduction to explain the details of it as it greatly helped set up my understanding of Ria’s reactions since the plot starts quickly with the introductions of Michael and Adrian. Without that, I believe Ria would have been less likeable as she did have rather prejudicial dialogue. In addition, Linwood did a commendable job in character development. For example, she slowly flushed out the character of Adrian, whom I detested in the first half of the book, and revealed enough of his history and circumstances such that I eventually ended up sympathizing with him. Furthermore, I loved the complexities that arise as Ria’s best friend, Paula, falls for the dangerous Adrian, while his interest lay with Ria. I enjoyed Ria’s struggle to protect her friend, while resisting Adrian’s advances. This becomes truly difficult as she begins to see Adrian in a different light versus that of just a magic disease carrier, and with the shocking twist that Linwood introduces in the middle of the book. Overall, Dangerous was an entertaining, fast read with an interesting concept with the magic disease carriers. I did become engrossed in this book (finished in two sittings) and felt that it had dynamic characters and a titillating cliffhanger ending to warrant reading the sequel, despite the grammatical errors. I would recommend this to young adult readers, who are fans of paranormal romances, such as the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.
  • Embrace - Kane Wolves, #2 on Oct. 17, 2012

    *More like 4.5 stars **Received free e-book in exchange for an honest review through the ARR (Authors Requesting Reveiws) program on Goodreads Embrace by Annalise Grey is the sequel to Howl which introduces Sophie, the female Alpha of two packs. I loved how it continues right after the cliffhanger of the first book - I hate feeling that I may have missed something which can happen with other series. I felt that Grey improved with her writing, but successfully kept the blend of action and romantic tension in the story. I found the main characters of Sophie, Jamie, and Daniel to be more fully developed and was pleasantly surprised by how my feelings changed from the first book. There was never a lull in the plot and I finished this in one sitting! Overall, Embrace was a well-paced, engaging read. I would definitely recommend this book to teen and adult fans of paranormal and urban fantasy, such as those by Andrea Cremer and Rachel Vincent, but start with Howl first!