melanie marsh

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Smashwords book reviews by melanie marsh

  • Forbidden on Oct. 17, 2013

    Wow. To be honest, this book was a little bit unexpected. I’m not sure how I expected this book to play out, but I’m pretty sure I was way off base. It is beautifully written, the characters are mysterious but engaging, and there is plenty of angst. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The opening scene of this book was very powerful. It had this heavy feeling to it that at the end left me with my mouth hanging open saying, “Whaaat?” The whole book is written beautifully, but there is just something about this particular scene that really just grabbed me and made me want to keep reading if nothing else than to see how things turn out for these characters. Amy Miles certainly knows how to get your attention! This story starts out with the “birth” of Rosaline. Mile’s then takes us to present day and Rosaline’s harsh existence. When she is finally able to escape, she goes to Chicago to attend a private high school. Though why she would want to go to high school instead of college, I have no idea. There she meets a few people that she decides to become friends with. Sadie and William are a sister and brother she meets. Sadie has her own personal style and the reader is led to believe that at one point she was one of the popular girls, but had some sort of fall from grace. William is the lovable little brother type who obviously cares about the women in his life while being a huge flirt with other girls. When she meets Gabe, there is an immediate attraction on both sides. The reader is given hints as to why this is such a significant event, so you will just have to read it to find out what happens between them. The climax of the story obviously pits good vs. evil and since there are no redeeming qualities of the evil in this book, I definitely found myself wanting good to prevail and for everything to work out for everyone involved. With some of the characters, I wasn’t quite sure which side of the fence they would fall on, but was happy with the sides in the end. Miles did a great job of not letting us know where everyone solidly stood, so the end wasn’t completely expected. The characters in this book are interesting to me. While we are given enough information to become invested in them to a degree, there were a few characters I would like to have known more about. In some ways, not knowing more about them adds to the mystery, and I think if I had known more about Nicolae from the beginning, it would have affected my opinion of him. There were some secondary characters that I felt like it was implied they would play a bigger role in the dynamics and back stories of the characters, particularly Claire and what else was going on with that situation, but it didn’t happen. I would also like to have known more about Vladimir and Lucien, their history and why they were so messed up in the head. While I LOVE the writing style of Amy Miles, I did feel like there were a few places where the story felt monotonous, and there was a bit of a lull in the middle, but not too much. The beginning and ending are action packed. One good thing about this book was Miles’s version of the immortal theme. She puts a different sort of twist to the vampire story without completely rewriting it. I think it works well with her book and I’m glad to see a book without sparkly vampires. I would have really liked to understand more about them and the species in general. I don’t think there was quite enough time spent explaining what the immortals are all about, or how it all fits together, but I’m going to assume there is more explained in the next book _____. Which I am looking forward to reading. Overall this was a good book. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a different kind of vampire/immortal type of story that doesn’t mind some high school love angst. It’s the good old, “I love you but we can’t be together because I have a secret” story, but the story really is so much more than that.
  • Troll Or Derby on Oct. 23, 2013

    This book was pretty cool. It was fun and quirky, and had a lot of interesting things going on. I thought the title and cover were cute. This book is full of fairy tale creatures from all different walks of life. Trolls, fairys, pixies, gnomes and lots of others make up this story. These creatures are nothing like we were raised to believe they are. At least, the fairies and pixies aren’t as sweet as we have been led to believe. In this book, we learn about Deb, a girl who has had a rough life. She is different, in almost every imaginable way. Her mom is a jerk, her sister is a drug addict. No father to speak of. She is constantly responsible for her older sister Jennifer. After the explosion of a meth house with Jennifer inside, Deb finds herself rescuing Jen once again. While trying to figure out just what is going on, Jen is kidnapped by a local drug dealer who is really skanky. As Deb tries to locate her sister and plan a rescue, she becomes entangled with all different kinds of creatures. She meets a Troll who is in love with her. He has been watching her for most of her life. He takes her to the flea market for fairy tale creatures and as she learns more and more about them, we find out just how important it is that she learns about them. We also learn why she is so willing to accept all of this strangeness. Most people would probably flip out if they met a troll and insane fairies and such. The story of why Jen was kidnapped is somewhat lame, to me, but believe or not, that really doesn’t take away from the story overall. There is enough going on within this story to make up for any small issues, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I feel bad for the Harlow the troll. He really seems like a sweet “guy” who could just use a little love in his life. He obviously does the best he can with what he’s got and has been crapped on by the people he cares about way too many times. You can see the humanity in him even through his tough exterior. He deeply cares for Deb and you can tell. He risks everything to save her regardless of the fact that he doesn’t know how she feels about him or what the outcome of their adventure will be. And who knew trolls were amazing musicians? I sure didn’t! I really came to hate her mom and sister. The way they treated her was appalling and the reasons why were pathetic and selfish. I really think they would deserve anything bad that were to happen to them. As a former derby girl myself, I was a little bit disappointed in how much roller derby was actually in this book. With the title as it is, I expected much more derby when in reality it is really only mentioned a few times. Practice is discussed, and a game or two, but really not nearly as much as I had hoped. What derby was in the book was well written and accurate for the most part, and Tash did a good job of explaining the sport in an understandable way. Her inclusion of Derby Wives, made me laugh, because I know all about that. The bloodthirsty nature of the fairies who play in this book makes roller derby even more exciting. Not that derby girls aren’t a bloodthirsty bunch to begin with, but I’ve got to say, I think a human would notice just how much more brutal they seem to be, and I think after a little while word would spread and no one would want to play with them anymore. I liked the ending for the most part. For me it got a little bit confusing as to what exactly was going on, but I got enough of the gist of it to what was happening and the outcome. So be sure to pay attention. There were some unexpected developments which gave the story a little bit of something extra and set it up for more books. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quickish and fun read. There are drugs, and some sexual references, but it’s not romantic, if that makes any sense. There is also quite a bit of violence. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are main themes in this book and makes it a very enjoyable read.
  • The Wizard Tales Vol I-III on Oct. 23, 2013

    This review is somewhat hard for me to write. Essentially this is a book of short stories. Some I enjoyed, some I did not. There were a few that made me laugh or gave more insight to Red Tash’s other book that I reviewed, Troll or Derby. Most of the stories in this book, really didn’t leave much of an impression one way or the other. The Wizard Takes a Holiday was kind of cute, but like with many short stories, I would have liked for the story to continue just a bit longer. It’s almost as if most of the stories are really just the beginning of another book. Like a teaser or sneak peek into a full length book. The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class was stupidly funny. It was funny picturing this dance off, but overall, it was kind of stupid. Stupid as in, what they were doing was ridiculous. Lucien’s First Trick was kind of scary. It was somewhat gross also. It was one of those stories that as a kid would have made you leery of your neighbors and was similar to an urban legend. Everyone knows of the scary old lady who steals children and is a witch. This story is about what would happen if that scary old lady really was a witch, and not just someone we imagine is a mean old witch. The Wizard Takes the Cake was one of the stories that I just felt nothing for. I would have been happy just skipping it completely. I really couldn’t wait to finish this story so I could move onto the next. Now, one thing I did notice was that most of the stories except for the last one were linked in many ways other than just being about the Wizard. The Wizard is present in the last one as well, but not in the way he’s featured in the others. The last story in this book, A Laurents County Landfill Christmas, is really the only one that I can say I actually enjoyed. It could be because it was about the characters in Troll or Derby. We are given a story about the Christmas that falls after the events in Troll or Derby, and shows how life has progressed and changed since that book ended. It was like getting an update on how everyone is doing, and I liked hearing about what was going on with them. Overall, this was an ok book. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The last story was, in my opinion, the best of all of them. If I had known that, I probably would have saved myself sometime and skipped straight to the last one and not bothered with the rest.
  • Fusion: A collection of short stories from Breakwater Harbor Books’ authors on Nov. 09, 2013

    My rating is based only on the story Life Ever After. Please note that I DID NOT read the other stories in this book. This review focuses on Life Ever After by Claire C. Riley, which is the prequel to Odium. I loved Odium, and I really like Claire C. Riley’s writing style, so I knew I would at least enjoy the story. I did more than enjoy the story; I finished it within an hour because I was so excited while reading it that I just couldn’t stop! While Odium is the first in the Odium series, Life Ever After gives us a peek inside Nina’s life before we met her leaving the “Sanctuary” in Odium. Throughout Odium, we are given hints into who Nina was before the outbreak, but we don’t really get all the answers we are looking for. Life Ever After provides us with some of those answers. We find out why Nina is still so attached to the memory of her husband, Ben. This story is very quick. It flows so well that it’s over before you know it. It almost feels too short, but since I read Odium first, I pretty much know what happens from the end, so I don’t feel like I was left hanging. I think the main reason I wanted to continue was because of how much I enjoy Claire Riley’s writing in general. The intensity throughout the story is insane. You can almost feel the adrenaline that the characters are feeling. There are moments of humor and sarcasm, which is something I enjoy because to me, it makes the characters feel more realistic. It starts with Nina telling us about the distance that has come between her and Ben. An argument over a pair of shoes, a smart ass comment here, a dirty look there. We’ve all been there at some point or another. When Nina goes to the grocery store to prove to Ben that her pretty new shoes are practical, she doesn’t notice anything amiss. As she is leaving the store, there seems to be some sort of disturbance, but she is eager to get home, so she ignores it and heads home. Soon after, she notices that her neighbors are acting odd. So she stays inside. Ben arrives home and explains to her that there has been an outbreak of some sort and it is spreading like crazy. People are being killed so they need to get out of town and head to his family’s cabin retreat. Life Ever After follows Ben and Nina, and is told from Nina’s point of view. As Ben and Nina attempt to escape from the Hell that has become their town, they see just how desperate their situation really is. They are encountering zombies at every turn. They are forced to work together and begin to recognize how much they love each other. It was nice to see a couple that can accept that they’ve each made mistakes, and remember that there was a reason they fell in love to start with instead of just giving up. They could have just gone their separate ways. Ben could have taken off and left Nina to fend for herself, but not only did he come home, but he brought her a pair of “practical shoes, a pair of blue Doc Martins. Perfect for the zombie apocalypse! Nina as a person starts out fairly shallow. She seems more interested in material things than in making her marriage work. She doesn’t seem to have the concept of teamwork. She starts out sounding pretty insecure in her general life and abilities. It almost seems like she is just going through the motions of life rather than actually enjoying what moments of joy that she can. From the beginning of Life Ever After through the end of Odium, there is an obvious change in Nina’s personality. She shows a level of maturity and growth that is very important to her character role. Many books have characters that, to some degree, never change throughout the series. I mean, they usually change their mind about something, or are proven wrong and end up coming to terms with it, but there is no real growth as an actual person would experience. I think this is a definite strength in Claire Riley’s writing style, and I really enjoy characters that are realistic while living in a fictional or “impossible” setting. Claire Riley really does just have a way with words. She makes them earn a place in her story, and shows them who is in charge. She tells a story that would give the average person nightmares, if not develop daytime fears. Her word choice does more than just tell the story, it creates a whole new environment in which they flourish and grow into a story that will make you want to bring a flashlight to bed at night. You know, just in case. I absolutely recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good zombie book, and even to new zombie readers. I’ve only recently really started enjoying zombie stories, and a big part of that is due to Claire’s book, ODIUM. You don’t have to have read ODIUM first, as long as you read both of them before ODIUM 2, which hopefully will be released soon. Never fear, dear reader, I will let you know as soon as I know when the release day is scheduled! Pick up this book for a quick read if you don’t have time to really read a whole book right now. I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Then when you have more time, you can read ODIUM!
  • Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend on Nov. 10, 2013

    Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend is one of those books that makes you glad you are no longer in high school. It’s got your typical popular girl vs nerd girl conflicts but with the added benefit of the popular girl becoming a zombie and trying to give her forcing her into a makeover. It’s full of the life lessons we have all heard and hopefully learned, but it never hurts to be reminded. Janie is “love” with Wayne. They have been friends since childhood and are neighbors. After Wayne is in a car accident with his girlfriend and Queen Bee, Matilda, due to drinking and driving (MESSAGE!), he finds himself in the hospital, and his girlfriend is dead. Janie becomes Wayne’s shoulder to cry on essentially and things start to progress when Wayne shows an interest in Janie in a hilarious first kiss type scene. When Janie comes home to find stinky zombie Matilda lying on her bed, the real story gets started. Up until this point, Janie has been struggling with emotions that I will admit, are somewhat familiar to me. She isn’t sad that Matilda died. She’s happy about it. But let’s face it, Matilda tormented her and made her life hell, creating a division in her friendship with Wayne. I hate to admit it, but I think I would feel the same way. No one wants to feel the way Matilda made Janie feel, and I think she is justified in her feelings. At least she didn’t fake it and pretend to be Matilda’s BFF like it seems so many people do when someone dies. Matilda’s master plan is to make Janie popular so she can become part of the prom committee, suggest a masquerade type them so that Matilda can attend the prom with Wayne, her “one true love”, and everyone lives happily ever after. Barf. There are some pretty obvious holes in Matilda’s plan, but hey, she’s a teenager, of course she didn’t think things through completely. As Janie’s popularity grows, so does her head. It is the usual story of the unpopular girl gets a makeover and everyone starts noticing her. She forgets who her real friends are (MESSAGE!). She learns lessons along the way of course and all is right in the world. Overall this was a cute book. I liked the story and it kept my interest throughout the whole book. I didn’t feel like there were any lulls in the story, and while many of the characters were pretty one dimensional, it is understandable because the story is more about Janie and Matilda than it is about the other characters. I do think I would have liked a little more back story on why Matilda was the way she was, but even without that information, we can still see who and why she is, at least to some degree. Angela Roquet has an interesting writing style that helps the story continue at a nice pace without feeling too slow. I read the book faster than I intended to and before I knew it the story was over. I will be looking into Roquet’s other books asap. This book is appropriate for most teens and isn’t bad to read as an adult. It reminded me in some way of the movie Jawbreaker, where they turn the ugly duckling girl into a beauty and she becomes someone else entirely. It sends positive messages to girls of all ages, and there are not quite enough books today that do that sort of thing. I will be trying to convince my 13 year old to read it.
  • A Hint of Magic on Nov. 10, 2013

    A Hint of Magic is the first book in Claire Chilton’s Demonic Diaries series. In this short story we are given a glimpse into the life of Dora Carradine, the heroine of Demonic Dora. We are introduced to Dora and her family, and some of how Dora fits into (or doesn’t) her community. I have mixed feelings about this book. I believe some of them are my own misconceptions so those I will leave out, but give some advice so you don’t experience the same misconceptions. I read Demonic Dora before I read A Hint of Magic. If you can read A Hint of Magic first, please do. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that the reader is given a better idea of who Dora, and tells us about Dora’s first experience with magic and witchcraft. The other reason I think it’s important to read this book first is it has a different feel to it. There are many of the same elements when it comes to character development, which is a good thing, but the overall tone is not as elaborate or crazy action packed as Demonic Dora. My only other “complaint” is that we are not given enough time in this story to really develop relationships or become invested in the characters. When the title says it’s a HINT of something, that should be your first clue that it is just a hint into the world we are reading about. I should have paid better attention to that hehe. Definite downside of many short stories, in my opinion. Ok, enough complaining! Let’s talk about the good. I loved that despite the fact the story was fairly short, we are still given enough of Dora’s snarky personality to get an impression of what a smart ass she can be. One of my favorite parts of Dora is her sarcasm. Just when you think to yourself, “gee, it would have been funny if she said…” she says it! The overall writing of the story was good. Its got a good storyline, good world building, a good twist at the end. It wasn’t overly surprising, but it was a surprise to at least some degree. This is a fun story leading up to the super awesome fun time in Demonic Dora I keep going on about. If I had not already read Demonic Dora, I would have been dying to find out what was going to happen next. You are given clues that something exciting is about to happen, but you won’t know what until you read the next book. I would strongly recommend buying A Hint of Magic AND Demonic Dora at the same time so you don’t have any down time in between and don’t have to wait to find out what happens next!
  • The Impaler's Revenge on Dec. 15, 2013

    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The Impaler’s Revenge is a little bit different from much of what I have been reading lately. When I say “different”, I mean that in a good way. It has no romance, well, maybe a teensy bit, which I am totally cool with. This is more of a political thriller with vampires I think. There are secrets and tons of questions that the reader gets to try to figure out. The reader is given a glimpse into the political life and relationships within the walls of a vampire free country, where the policy on vampires is, shoot first, ask questions later. Romania, ironically enough, is the only vampire free country in the world. It’s been that way for five hundred years thanks to strict border laws and the large numbers of trained soldiers that would have no problem killing a vampire on sight. Liana Cantacuzino is a member of the “Little Council” who inherited her position, as has been done since the council was founded by select noble families in order to keep the vampire population under control. Liana takes her position very seriously and keeps most people she interacts with at arm’s length. She obviously has intimacy issues. She is something of a complicated woman who has a trauma in her past that still affects her and her personality. Liana is given the task of insuring the safety of Maximilien Hess,, a thousand year old Vampire whose presence has been requested by the President of Romania. It is a no questions asked type of situation and Maximilien won’t reveal his secrets as to why he is in Romania. Max (which is NOT his preferred nickname!) is kept under constant surveillance and tight security to make sure he not only behaves, but also that no one kills him on sight. What is the President hiding from the council? The truth can endanger the entire country. I enjoyed this book. It had an interesting storyline, and realistic characters. I think my favorite character in this story was actually Maximilien. He had a sense of humor despite the fact that the people he was dealing with had an obvious dislike and distrust for him. I think there is a lot more to this character that Visan’s readers would like to learn about. I think he probably has a cool history that would make a great story. The storyline itself was a good idea. I enjoyed the aspect of trying to figure out what Max and the President were hiding. I didn’t figure it out until the end, which is cool. I did feel like I would have liked to have more of the story a little bit sooner than it was presented. It seemed like the first ¾ of the book was just the characters hanging out and we weren’t given an idea that there was something nefarious was afoot until later. For all we knew, Max was there to help the President pick out some new suits or something (everyone knows Vampires have impeccable taste). All of the best action really didn’t start until that last bit of the book. I would have liked more back story on Liana as well as Max. They were both very interesting characters to me, and I was just itching to find out more about them and why they were who they were. The Impaler’s Revenge is the first novella in The Impaler Legacy Series. I look forward to reading the rest of this series. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a more “grown up” type of Vampire book. Anyone who enjoys a good book with political twist and the added benefit of having Vampires involved would enjoy this book. It’s a solid 4 stars in my opinion.
  • Floyd & Mikki: Zombie Hunters on Sep. 20, 2015

    There are so many great elements to this book; I hardly know where to start! Let me start by saying how quickly and completely I fell in love with not only the characters, but the story as well. It was fast paced, full of action and explosions and had a tone to it that was just different from many other zombie books out there today. I try not to rehash the blurb in my reviews, but I think it’s necessary here to get an idea of what’s going on. Floyd is a loner. Surviving on his own in his apocalypse rigged truck he has managed to avoid getting himself killed or turned into a zombie. One night, he meets a football helmet-wearing survivor named Mikki, who, like him, has managed to survive by being cautions and learning how to adapt. Mikki has used textbooks and a mostly inaccurate and battered copy of a zombie apocalypse survival guide, in which she’s made plenty of her own notes to help guide her through these dangerous times. Neither is used to having company and they have both seen the horrors of being too trusting in this world. Mikki had a hard life growing up and she has grown into one strong, gun toting, ass kicking, and explosion loving kind of girl. Though I can’t recall if her age is mentioned, I believe she generally avoids the question and she seems a bit immature at times and it’s implied that she’s younger than she appears. She has a hard edge to her because of her pre-apocalypse history, but she also exudes an air of sexiness that can’t be denied. Mikki is quite intelligent and creative as well, though due to the stupidity of the nature of most men, all they see is a pretty face. Floyd and Mikki decide to stick together, at least for a little while, and their story is nothing short of amazing. Floyd seems like an everyman. He has good values, he’s smart, and is mechanically inclined. He could be any decent man, which makes him, as a character, easy to believe in. He could be my dad, my husband, or a hundred other men I know. At the same time, he isn’t ordinary. I love Mikki. She is probably one of my all time favorite literary characters, female or male. She’s headstrong, sexy, smart, yet very sweet in her own way. She puts on a threatening face, and don’t get me wrong, she’s a serious fighter, but inside she just wants someone to love her. I think it’s easy to relate to her as a woman because we never want to be seen as weak just because we are female, so many of us have to try harder to be taken seriously. Her sense of humor had me laughing aloud. Just the way she interacts with Floyd made me want them to be together. Whether as friends or as more, I didn’t care as long as they were together. Overall their story and the book overall really draws you in and makes you want to continue reading. All of the characters, including the zombies are believable; well, at least as believable as a zombie can be. This isn’t just a zombie survival story, the author is really able to bring life into this book and make you see that even at the end of civilization there are still good people out there.
  • Floyd & Mikki 2: Zombie Slayers on Sep. 20, 2015

    Great sequel! I'm so glad Floyd and Mikki's story continued. When I finished F+M 1, I had a book hangover for at least a week. Then I realized F+M 2 was out and that made me feel better. I spent the majority of this book worried about which characters would live or die. It really stressed me out! It's rare that I find characters that I feel that strongly about, so it's a refreshing change for me. I love what this author has done with these 2 characters and I really enjoy most of the people they meet along the way. They sure do keep the apocalypse exciting! This is a great book and a great series. I highly recommend it to all zombie fans. Keep in mind this series is more about how the characters grow and evolve from where they start. Mikki grows up a lot. Floyd was pretty much grown already, but he still learns how to...well you'll see when you read it!