I am a 20 year-old college student and Book Blogger. I run That Bookish Girl, where I review Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Young Adult books.
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Smashwords book reviews by Sarah Snyder
- Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, A Paranormal Romance: Jolie Wilkins Book 1
on Oct. 24, 2010
I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting myself into when I began reading Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. I had heard a lot of great things about the book - but I still wasn't entirely convinced I would like it. Let me just say that this book officially knocked my socks off.
I would have to say that my favorite aspect of this book is the characters. Jolie, the protagonist, is an up-and-coming witch. The problem is, that she doesn't know she is a witch. She struggles with self confidence and simply cannot believe that she is a powerful witch that people are actually fighting over. She likes to think of herself as a psychic - and a mediocre one at that. Jolie's narrative is incredibly witty and her personality makes her easy to love. She is an absolute hoot and not afraid to call it like it is. I love the fact that she doesn't exactly understand her power yet, or fully understand her effect on people, because it creates so wonderful moments.
Along for the ride is Jolie's partner in crime and lifelong BFF, Christa. Christa is everything Jolie is not - confident, collected and comfortable in her sexuality. She is fully aware of herself as a woman and often uses her charms to get what she wants. I don't want to make her out as a bad person or a bad friend, because she isn't. She would never hurt Jolie, she just likes to use her feminine charms on men. She is the kind of friend everyone wants - someone who balances you out and would drop everything in a heartbeat for you.
This book is also chock-full of supernatural cuties. Jolie's definitely got her hands full in the love department; which is an entirely new situation for her. The first of her potential love interests is Rand. Rand is a super powerful Warlock who discovers Jolie's abilities. He is really what pulls her into her new life and acts sort of as a mentor. These two have some mad chemistry, but Rand has conflicting emotions about dating in new employee. There are some absolutely amazing scenes between these two, because they are constantly pushing each other to their limits.
However, like I said before Jolie certainly has options. There is also a werewolf vying for her attentions as well as a Faerie King and the occasional vampire. While this book does have a lot of romantic subplots, the characters and overall plot do not suffer. A lot of times, I find that books center on the love triangles too much and everything else suffers. Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble certainly does not have this problem. The plot is fast paced, action packed, exciting and unique. Mallory does an amazing job recreating and redefining types of characters (like werewolves, witches and faeries) that we have seen time and time again.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good urban fantasy or paranormal romance. While the tone wasn't as dark as your typical urban fantasy, the change in pace is definitely refreshing. This book was entertaining, hilarious and an overall great time. I am eagerly waiting for book 2 in the Jolie Wilkins series, I cannot wait to see what happens next!
- A Chance for Charity (The Immortal Ones)
on March 30, 2011
A Chance for Charity was a beautifully crafted, well developed paranormal story. While the story falls under the young adult category, the characters themselves do not behave like naive teenagers – because they are nothing of the sort. Although Charity (who currently goes by Emily) appears to be a seventeen-year-old, in reality she is in her nineties. She, and her companions, Catherine and James, are “immortal ones”. They never age and can heal themselves, but they can be murdered.
Baum does a fantastic job with the characters, especially Charity. I found her to be extremely endearing and easy to sympathize with. For the past seventy odd years she has kept the world at a distance, after she lost her first love during the attack on Pearl Harbor. She looks to Catherine and James for companionship, but it is obvious that she is missing something.
The book begins when Charity, Catherine and James move to the small town of Telluride, Colorado. Because they do not age, they are forced to start over every few years to avoid discovery. The trio is constantly looking over their shoulders for the Lords family – a family who has made it their legacy to hunt down the immortal ones. When they arrive in Telluride, they change their names as a precaution, here Charity is known as Emily Johnston. James and Catherine pose as Charity’s Aunt and Uncle, since they appear older then Charity.
Like the character of Charity, I was also impressed with James and Catherine. As the book progresses both characters are fleshed out and we are given their back stories. I don’t want to give too much about the characters away, but the way they met was very creative. Both Catherine and James care immensely for Charity and act in the parental roles, even though in reality she is over ninety years old.
Soon after the makeshift family arrives in Telluride, Charity meets Link. She instantly feels comfortable with him and cannot seem to stay away. She knows that by allowing a relationship (of any kind) to progress she is putting her family in danger, but she cannot get him off her mind. She feels that she knows him from somewhere and Link feels the same pull towards her.
The only problem I had with this book can be found with Charity and Link’s relationship. Let me start by saying that I loved the two of them together. Link brings out another side to Charity; a side that she has kept hidden away for decades. He too has kept his distance from others and they sort of heal each others wounds. That being said, I thought their relationship progressed way too fast. They go from acquaintances to friends at a reasonable pace, but there descent from friends to soul mates was like lightning. I could kind of see it from Charity’s perspective; I mean she has been waiting to fall in love for a while. But Link is only twenty-two. How many twenty-two year old guys are ready to make a declaration of love after something like two months? Please don’t miss understand me, I was thrilled with their relationship, I just wish they would have slowed down at bit.
On another note, the plot line and writing were phenomenal. You get to meet a few different supernatural creatures as the book progresses – some vampires, witches and even a few shifters. However, I really appreciated that the supernatural elements were not over done. This was obviously a book about supernaturals, but that was not front and center. Often times with these sort of books, the characters themselves suffer because the author was so focused on their supernatural qualities and traits. All of the characters in A Chance for Charity were beautifully developed and the plot lines were well thought out.
There is also plenty of excitement packed within the pages; things really start to heat up when the Lord brothers come to town. Catherine, James and Charity have to decide whether to runaway once again or to stay and put up a fight. Like I said before, although they are immortal, they can be killed. They are terrified of losing one another, because they are all they have. I cannot imagine how lonely it would be, living on forever as you watch those around you die. The three of them keep each other sane; I don’t think they could stand it if they lost one another.
On a final note, the setting is also to-die-for. The images of the quaint ski town of Telluride that Baum paints are gorgeous. I could easily picture every different setting; Catherine’s store, Charity’s mansion, the ski slopes – every lovely detail was described. Yet, the writing never seemed to drag. The pacing was always just right. While we get a lot of information about each character, it comes in short segments so it is never overwhelming. There is nothing I hate more than when a writer goes off on a side note for pages and pages and pages. Thankfully, this is avoided and everything flows smoothly.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Chance for Charity and look forward to reading the sequel, which is going to be published sometime this year. Besides the minor problem with the pace of Charity and Link’s romance, the book was flawless. I connected with all of the characters, loved the storyline and cannot wait to see what happens to Charity and the gang next.
- Forsaken By Shadow
on March 31, 2011
Forsaken By Shadow by Kait Nolan was an exciting, interesting read. I do not remember ever reading a book about shadow-walkers before, which immediately makes this one standout. It's an urban fantasy/paranormal romance that does not center around werewolves, shape-shifters or vampires. To me, that is a feat all it's own.
Yes, it is a novella, but I still wanted it to be longer. It’s not that the story was confusing, because it wasn’t. Nolan provides a glossary of terms at the beginning of the book that proves to be extremely helpful and makes it possible for her to skip drawn out explanations during the story. It’s simple that I wanted more story. I am a greedy reader and I honestly enjoyed the characters and unfortunately, I didn’t get my fill of them. It looks as though the following books in the series don’t deal directly with Gage and Embry; they are take place in their world. A 165 pages were not enough for me.
Embry (or as Gage calls her, Ember) is determined, strong-willed and tough. She will do anything to get her father back, even open painful doors to her past. Embry is a fire elemental; a sort of witch who can produce, control and manipulate fire.
Gage is equally as awesome; he is a shadow-walker, which means he can travel from shadow to shadow. I am a bit iffy on the details, but from what I was able to gather, he just needs to envision the shadow he wants to appear in and he can bounce amongst them. Does that make sense? He can teleport between shadows – that is probably a better description. When we first meet Gage, he is living under the name Cade; he has lost his memory and has now made a career for himself as an ultimate fighter. he is a funny mix of characteristics; he is extremely tough and can be brutal, but he is also rather loyal and a bit of a southern gentleman.
Nolan's writing style lends itself to the fast paced story, she isn't overly concerned with descriptions. I do not mean to say that she doesn't adequately cover things - she does, but her writing is more centered around the movement of the story, as opposed to the setting.
My major complaint with the book is that the way that Gage and Embry go about rescuing her father is extremely far-fetched. Even for a fantasy novel. I just cannot believe the way they got in to rescue him – it’s just so incredibly unlikely. I get that this was a novella, and the plot cannot be too complicated, but that was one big coincidence.
Overall, Forsaken By Shadow was a quick, enjoyable read. There were some predictable plot elements and sometimes things were a bit far-fetched, but the majority of the story was creative, unique and exciting.
- Snow Burn
on April 04, 2011
I haven't read that many suspense novels, but it is a genre that I enjoy. Snow Burn was a rather quick read that evoked a surprising amount of emotion and internal debate.
Both of the main characters (Tommy and Vince) are surprisingly well developed for a 70+ page story. True, they sometimes seem one-dimensional, but honestly, you cannot expect perfect characterization here. Like I said before, this is an extremely quick read and it is suppose to be a suspense novel. It simply would not work if the author was to drone on about the characters for pages at a time, it would mess up entire feel of the story.
The character of Tommy easy to relate to, I was the kid in high school that never really did anything. I wasn’t as extreme of a case as Tommy, but I definitely followed the rules. Tommy has lived an incredibly sheltered life and always does what he is told. He worries about everything and wants to spend his weekend of freedom in the safety of Vince's house. He wants to stay up all night, watch old scary movies and drink tons of pop. I would have been right there next to Tommy watching a horror movie marathon. No house parties in sight, no crazy shenanigans, nothing that could get me in a lot of trouble.That being said, I much preferred the character of Vince; Tommys best friend and partner in crime. He certainly isn’t perfect, in fact he is always the one to get the boys in trouble, but he is undeniably interesting. There were plenty of times I wanted to smack him upside the head, but I was always waiting to see what he would do, or say next.
As far as the dialogue goes – it seemed realistic enough to me. It is what I always pictured teenage boys sounding like, right down to the hot mom comments.
There were a few elements of Snow Burn that I wasn’t crazy about. First of all, I wish Tommy would have shown a little bit of backbone. I do not know if teenage boys usually do things this – camping out in the dead of winter in a closed state park, but red flags were immediately going up for me. Tommy knew Vince’s plan was insane, but Vince easily talked him into it. I am sorry, nothing and no one would ever make me do something like that. Sure, I can see my seventeen year-old self being talked into a lot of things, but never something like that. If teenage boys are really that stupid, I really, truly fear for their safety and sanity.
Also, the suspense was rather slow to build.The story isn’t that long and the portion of it that really deals with the heavy stuff is rather short; the majority of the plot is build-up. Granted, I wouldn't say that the pacing was slow, I just would have preferred to have more action.
Snow Burn is a story that makes you think. It makes you consider some extremely difficult questions about yourself. Nobody really knows how they would react in a situation like this – you can pretend you would always do the right thing, but you can’t really be sure.
on July 07, 2011
I thought that Between was incredible creative. Aiden and Lindsey move back and forth through time and space, travel to each other’s memories of their former lives. This way, we get to witness both of these characters experience a completely different setting and time that what they’ve known. This was truly an inspired idea, because as readers we get a better understanding of the characters through their memories, yet it’s not an “information dump.” The plot continues to move as we travel through these different memories – the scenes play out like movies and Aiden and Lindsey take on almost ghostly roles. They can interact with each other during these memories, but they cannot interact with their younger selves or anyone else present.
Besides these sort of memory replays, Lindsey and Aiden can both “cast” different locations they’d been to when they were living. This means that the setting is constantly changing and let me tell you, Tefft does an amazing job with each location. Through the book we travel to the Scottish countryside, a ball at Versailles and a French Chateau (through Aiden) and A tranquil cabin on a lake, to the Seattle Space Needle, An Aquarium and the Opera with Lindsey. Each place is described in such vivid detail that you truly feel like you are right there with the characters.
The love connection between Aiden and Lindsey moved at lightning speed. I enjoyed their relationship, but I cannot help but feel like it was incredibly rushed. Lindsey also dealt with her own death better than one would expect. She did break down a few times, but not nearly as often as I would think. If your life was ripped out from underneath you at a tenderly young age, wouldn’t you be incredibly grief stricken? I think I would be a hot mess. She, however seems to be mostly concerned with Aiden. Although, I guess if I put it into perspective, I might be able to understand why they would have bonded so quickly. I mean, he’s been starved for true human interaction for 300 years and she just died. I guess it would be more prudent to focus on the hot Scotsmen than wallow about something you cannot change. I would probably get all clingy too.
Let's talk about the storyline for a minute, because again, it is so wonderfully creative. When Lindsey dies in a car crash, Aiden appears to act as her transporter. It is his job to transport her to heaven. As the two proceed to interact, they quickly fall in love, even though the fear of separation is always hanging over them. They both know that at some point Lindsey is going to have to move on and it puts a terribly romantic spin on everything. Honestly, it’s such an incredible concept – forget about vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, faeries, mermaids or any other supernatural creature you’ve seen – let’s talk about an incredibly attractive, Scottish, kilt-wearing version of a Grim Reaper. I think we can all agree that we are treading on new territory with Between.
I also want to say something about the religion in the book. I for one, usually don’t take to books that deal with religious overtones, because they can often come off as preachy. That really isn’t the case with Between. I never felt like Tefft was trying to sway my religious views or anything of the sort – I just saw a wonderfully creative and heartfelt story.
One last thing - how about that lovely cover? I would like to give mad props to whoever designed that one, because I instantly wanted to read Between when I saw it. I know; it’s terribly wrong to judge a book by its cover, but we all know we do it. I would never, not read a book based on a cover, but there is just something so wonderful about a cover that makes you go oh-la-la.
Between by Cyndi Tefft was an intriguing story that kept me constantly entertained. I see that there is going to be a sequel, Hell Transporter, but I do not know when it’s going to be released. I can tell you that I will be reading it. If you are a fan of paranormal romances or just romances in general than I could defiantly give Between a try.
- Between The Land And The Sea
on July 11, 2011
Between the Land and the Sea by Derrolyn Anderson is an exciting and thrilling young adult mermaid story. Surprisingly, I haven’t read that many books on these particular supernatural creatures, so I was looking forward to diving into the story.
Marina is a strong heroine who prides herself on being independent. Sometimes her closed-off nature gets her into trouble, because she doesn’t want to burden others with her problems. Like all good characters, Marina isn’t perfect. She has flaws, but tries to work through them. I certainly wouldn’t say that she is over her independent streak by the end of Between the Land and the Sea, I expect it is something she will struggle with throughout the whole of the series.
This being a young adult romance book of sorts, Marina’s relationship with Ethan takes up a lot of the book. However, it doesn’t overwhelm the story. There are plenty of other plotlines that keep the romance from taking over things. Plus, their relationship develops at a reasonable pace. Marina doesn’t throw herself at Ethan and Ethan earns her trust over a period of time. They also have ups and downs, which keeps things realistic. After all, these are teenagers – moods swings, hormones and all.
As far as the secondary characters go, there were some I loved and some that were just so-so. Abby, Marina’s aunt felt very familiar to me, she reminded me of a lot of my friend’s mother. She was a bit offbeat and incredibly kind. However, Marina’s cousin and his best friend fell a bit flat for me. I felt like they were one-dimensional and they did not really make a big impression on me. I also felt like at times Cruz’s (Marina’s cousin) storyline pulled the focus off of Marina’s. Cruz’s storyline certainly had a different tone than Marina’s and it disrupted the flow of the book.
Another element of the story that kind of threw me off was the sheer perfection of Marina’s world. At times things were just too difficult to believe – and I don’t mean her aquatic heritage. Marina was just too perfect – she’s a brilliant, beautiful globetrotting teen who has a wildly successful father (he wins a Nobel peace prize) and an unbelievably rich “Aunt” who lives to dote on her with lavish gifts - I am talking about prada, Gucci and sports cars. Then, her cousin, Cruz, is supposedly this undeniably talented teen fashion designer (who Aunt Evie takes under her wing). I just think that Marina’s real world is too far-fetched. These portions of her life are supposed to be rooted in reality and I just can’t say that I bought it. The unrealistic aspects of her life certainly affected the overall feel of the story and I think that to a point, it hindered it.
That being said, I did enjoy the fantastic portion of Marina’s life and things that directly pertained to it. I thought that her relationships with and reactions to the mermaids were incredibly intriguing. I don’t want to give plot points away, but things get dark and dangerous and I thought Anderson did a great job with the pacing. That’s why I had a hard time with the “realistic” portions of the book – they created a light, fluffy tone, when I much preferred the darker feel of the mythical side to the story.
Although I had a few issues with the book, I really did enjoy Between the Land and the Sea. Marina was an interesting character who is forced to deal with some very exciting and complicated challenges. Ethan was a decent love interest and I cannot wait to see their relationship develop further. The book had a few pacing errors, but when it was solely focused on Marina’s storyline the pacing was spot on. I am looking forward reading the sequel, I cannot wait to see where Anderson takes things from here. This was definitely a great start to a series!