Book Review: Legacy of Lies

review-cover-legacy of liesTitle: Legacy of Lies [Hell’s Valley 1]

Author: Jillian David

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Thriller, Paranormal

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Garrison Taggart doesn’t have time to deal with touchy-feely junk like “trust issues” or “feelings.” His dad’s health is waning and the family’s Wyoming ranch is being sabotaged. Too bad his supernatural ability to tell when someone is lying has been exactly zero help in ferreting out the betrayer so far. So, when sweet schoolteacher Sara Lopez raises concerns about his son being bullied, who can blame a guy for getting a little testy?

The last thing Sara needs is any more attention or gossip after her recent breakup with big-shot rancher Hank Brand. So her attraction to surly but sexy Garrison, Hank’s rival, is entirely unwanted. When she uncovers an insane plot to kidnap the Taggart boy and throws herself in harm’s way to protect him, Garrison must risk his deepest secret and his own life to save the people he cares for the most. But will his heroics cost him everything?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really enjoyed Legacy of Lies by Jillian David. It was a strange and fresh new concept of a contemporary rancher-romance juxtaposed with elements of paranormal and thriller, which isn’t something I’ve run across in the past.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were no obvious or jarring typos. The narrative was clean, flowed easily, and for the most part, the dialogue was believable and natural.

The main characters were flawed, interesting, and adorable in their strained romance—but I also think they were possibly the weakest point of the story. I liked them—I did, but there was this weird back and forth with the two main characters where they loved each other, but kept self-doubting their way out of the relationship. The way they kept backing out of the romance was irritating, frustrating, and honestly, didn’t make a lot of sense at times. It came across as a bit contrived.

That aside, I still greatly enjoyed the book. The plot was new and interesting, I liked the characters and their development. Had it not been for the constant self-doubt of the main characters, this easily would have gotten 5 stars. I was entertained, and I got sucked into the book. There’s not much more I can ask for. If you enjoy rancher-romances or enjoy contemporary paranormal or romantic thrillers, you’ll probably really enjoy this story. I’d suggest giving it a try.

Book Review: Luminosity

review-cover-luminosityTitle: Luminosity [Escaping Demons Saga 1]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Jasmine Johnstone’s life was relatively normal until she was forced to live with the Stevenson family. As she stayed she found she had no choice but to battle mythical creatures. Strengths she never knew she possessed began to surface, surprising those around her. Her only chance of surviving the rising tide of evil was Nathan Stevenson. Could she really trust him as he fought against his love for her? With the world against them and time running out, would their love be enough to defeat demons?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about Luminosity by Stacy McWilliams. I liked it. The plot was a somewhat new idea, I was curious as to what was happening, and for a few short hours, I was thoroughly entertained—but that doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a good book.

The book was riddled with typos—and I mean a lot of them. There were missing words, spelling problems, even words that were used in the wrong context. Although the writing was fairly clear and easy to read, the plot left me baffled. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on and there were no explanations forthcoming. The “romance” between Nathan and Jasmine was painfully contrived and woefully neglected for the first half of the book. It felt like I spent the majority of the book watching this poor, orphaned kid getting smacked around by basically everyone she met.I lost count of how many head injuries she received, but I’d bet you it was over half a dozen—and she barely stuck up for herself, tried to run away, or otherwise defended herself in any manner. She never even actively tried to figure out what was going on around her, even though she knew something very strange and very bad was definitely going down. Jasmine was a punching bag.

So why did I like it? I’m not sure. I guess I liked it because I keep hoping that there’s going to be more explanation. I keep hoping Nathan’s going to do something risky and beautiful to save Jasmine’s life. It’s all hope. I’m going to keep reading the series, and who knows? Maybe something will be explained in the second book. This definitely isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something different and dark, and you have a high tolerance for confusion, you may be interested in this book. Just be aware that this one needs a high trigger warning for people who’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse. It’s going to make you mad.

Book Review: Devil’s Cove

review-cover-devil's coveTitle: Devil’s Cove [Tortured Souls 1]

Author: R.C. Matthews

Genre: Historical, Gothic, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Shrouded in unspeakable horror and spoken of only in whispers, the abandoned Devil’s Cove Manor lures Captain Devlin Limmerick and his unquenchable thirst for revenge to its doors. Feared as the Devil on the high seas, the pirate’s desire to avenge his past is matched only by his hunger for the powerful young medium he has coerced to aid him in his nefarious quest.

Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace is both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself drawn to the Devil’s darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin’s unspeakable plans in motion.

But an evil lurks within these walls, and their very souls are in jeopardy. Grace’s presence at the manor spurs inexplicable happenings, forcing Devlin to believe nothing is as dead as it seems – not even his heart. Plunged into the throes of passion and danger, they discover the only way out is to search deep within and summon the courage to believe in true love.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Devil’s Cove by R.C. Matthews was a little outside what I normally read in historical romances. I can honestly say that this is maybe the first Gothic Romance I’ve ever read—and I got quite a kick out of it. The characters were interesting and unique, the plot was wholly different than what I’m used to in a historical romance, and there was a dark edge of danger to the plot that I found fascinating.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. I ran into a few typos, but nothing that pulled me out of the narrative. The writing flowed easily, the dialogue seemed fairly natural, and I greatly enjoyed the plot. The only real problem I had with the technical side of the book, was perhaps the language. There were definite moments when I doubted the words used and if they were appropriate to the historical theme of the book, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, there were a lot of moments when I saw true historical bits throw in, but they were done so in a way that made me stop and go “oh. the author wanted me to notice that they did research.” There was no need for it, and it was a little clunky.

That aside, I greatly enjoyed the plot and the romance. Devlin and Grace were dynamic characters and though vastly different in nature, melded well. Their backgrounds, though often painful to read, were interesting and provided genuine context to their personalities. I really enjoyed them! Josephine seemed to be a character straight out of a horror film, and as seductive and evil as she was presented, I couldn’t help but love her as well. She wasn’t a cardboard villain in a black hat—and I loved that about her. She was a real person with real motivations, and she was both dangerously evil, and sweet at the same time.

And as a side-note… I was so thrilled to see Neptune’s Ballroom included in the story because it is a fantastic site that I’ve seen and heard about in previous instances and always thought was a fascinating place! I squealed with joy when I realized where the ballroom was—almost as soon as Devlin pointed out that no one had found it. I just –knew- it was going to be where it was, and was overjoyed to be proven right. Well done!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The kind of ill-handled historical aspects of it aside, I thought it was a wonderfully colorful book full of great characters and an interesting plotline, and if you’re looking for a fast gothic romance to enjoy, I would highly recommend you pick this up!

Book Review: Lie To Me

review-cover-lie to meTitle: Lie To Me [A Touched Trilogy 1]

Author: Angela Fristoe

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 3 (3.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Phoebe Matlin has always felt broken. While one of her sisters sees the future, and the other can heal people, Phoebe has come to accept that her truth telling gift just doesn’t work.

Then her best friend, Tonya, lies to her and Phoebe’s gift flares to life. With Tonya pissed at her, being a Truth Teller suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great gift. Although, it is nice knowing she was the reason her crush, Nathan, dumped his stalker girlfriend.

But in lies, intention is everything and Tonya’s lies are a cry for help. The fear that her friend is covering darker and more serious truths is something Phoebe can’t ignore. But knowing when someone is lying is the easy part. Now she has to decide what to do about it. And with Nathan and his doubts about her ability confusing things, finding a way to help Tonya isn’t as easy as Phoebe thought it would be.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There is so much I want to say about Lie To Me by Angela Fristoe. There was so much to the book that I wasn’t expecting, but in some ways, there was also a lot less.

As far as the technical aspect of the book is concerned, it was well edited. I only ran into one noticeable typo in the entire book, and that’s pretty amazing. The narrative was easy to read and was paced well. I never felt rushed or bogged down. I got sucked into the book right away and I was entertained by what I found there.

The characters themselves were an interesting mix of barely-there stereotypes (like the angry, popular ex-girlfriend) and the amazingly complex (like the main character). Phoebe was a very interesting character in particular. Going into the story I’d read a few negative character reviews of Phoebe—and I kind of get it. She could be a bit of a loose cannon at times, and yes, she could be a bit bratty… but I saw more to her than that.

Phoebe lived in a strange, dynamically volatile household. She was stuck with an overprotective father, a sister that was constantly trying to take all of her very real, but negative feelings away, another sister who could see her future—and often used that information against her, and a grandmother who pried into her past constantly through her ‘gift’. Frankly, I could understand Phoebe’s discontent. She lived in a war zone where she was constantly being bombarded by her family and they gave her very little privacy or consideration. I’d be angry too! As the main character, I found Phoebe flawed, but in a believable and interesting way.

Unfortunately, there were some parts of the story that lacked. Nathan, as a love interested just didn’t cut it for me. I think because there was so much going on in the story outside of the romance, he often got treated as a bit of a side character, and I feel like I didn’t get a chance to really know him as well as I wanted to.

Also, there were so many unanswered questions about Phoebe’s sisters, her friends, and her gift that were never really delved into. I’m sure there will be more about all of those further into the series, but I still can’t help but feel like I missed out on some important information. The entire paranormal aspect of the book was used frequently in the story to spur on the action and drama of the plot, was fairly glossed over in every other way possible.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was more complex than I’d expected, and although not perfect, I’m glad I read it.

Book Review: The Journal of Curious Letters

review-cover-the journal of curious lettersTitle: The Journal of Curious Letters [The 13th Reality 1]

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

What if every choice you made created an alternate reality? InThe Journal of Curious Letters, Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day he receives a strange letter informing him that dangerous— perhaps even deadly—events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. Tick will be sent twelve riddles that, when solved, will reveal the time and place of an extraordinary happening. Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues and discover the life he was meant to live? Tick’s journey continues in The Hunt for Dark Infinity! Mistress Jane and the Chi’karda are back. Tick and Mistress Jane race to find the deadly Dark Infinity weapon. But who will destroy it—and who will become its master?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What a gem! I picked up this book for my 12-year-old daughter and we ended up reading it together. I’m glad to say that I honestly found this to be a joy to read.

The book was exceptionally well written and full of colorful characters. There were funny, heartwarming, action-filled, and even creepy moments throughout the book as Tick worked to solve the mystery of the 13 clues he received from one very odd Master George and his companions, Rutger and Mothball (who was definitely one of our favorite characters).

One of my favorite aspects of the book as a parent, though, was the relationship Tick had with his father. Where most children’s books seem to either omit the parents, or fall into the trope of having the parents not believe their children, James Dashner crafted The Journal of Curious Letters in such a way that not only did Tick turn to his father with his worries, but Tick’s father believed his son—and helped him! It was a great moment to witness in a children’s book, and I and my daughter had a great talk about how important it was for kids to talk to their parents about their worries, and for parents to listen to them and take them seriously.

Overall, we found loved the book. It was exciting, funny, and full of interesting characters. It’s a bit of a long book, but I’m not complaining—we never wanted to put it down, and often read 5-10  chapters together a night until it was finished.

Book Review: My Heart’s Desire

review-cover-my heart's desireTitle: My Heart’s Desire [Barrett 1]

Author: Andrea Kane

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Caught in the crossfire of war, they were shipwrecked on an idyllic island, where they tasted perfect passion and tenderness. But Drake dreaded the day of their rescue-when his love would discover that the virile man she adored was at the pinnacle of the aristocracy she despised.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

My Heart’s Desire by Andrea Kane, was yet another solid historical romance – although I’ll admit, it does fall a bit into the formulaic side of romance—but I’m okay with that.

Overall, the writing was nearly flawless. I did run into a typo or two, but nothing that pulled me out of the narrative or otherwise halted the flow of the story for me. The typos were minor, and easily skimmed over, and other than that, the writing was clean, clear, and flowed a nice pace.

Though there was a touch of the simpering maiden to the main female lead, Alexandria, for the most part, I found her character better described as stubborn, head-strong, and caring. She had her moments of fit, where she lost her head, but for the vast majority of the story, she  did what she thought was best. I liked her as a lead character quite a bit.

As for Drake… well… he was often arrogant, and easily as headstrong as Alex, and I understand completely why she lost her head with him at times—he could certainly be infuriating—but like Alex, he usually kept his head. He was strong, and intelligent, and had a softer side that he tried to mask, but didn’t always succeed. The romance between Alex and Drake was steamy and filled with tension, and kept the story going.

Overall, I loved the book. I liked the characters, the easy world building, the plot and it’s many conflicts… the only trouble I ran into was that although warranted in order to tie up all the little bits of the plot, the ending did seem a few chapters too long. I’d expected it to end long before it did, and that may have been a bit of a pacing issue. Regardless, I enjoyed the story, and I was entertained. If you enjoy historical romances, you are certain to enjoy this one.

Book Review: Aftermath

review-cover-aftermathTitle: Aftermath [After The Fall 1]

Author: Tom Lewis

Genre: Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Alien Invasion, Young Adult

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

The end of the world came fast. Between the time the warning had sounded on the TV, till when 16-year-old Paige O’Connor awakened sometime later, civilization had been crushed.

The attacks had come by “them” – those things in the ships in the sky that had appeared suddenly, and without warning.

And as Paige would soon discover, the attacks had only been the beginning.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I tried to like this book. I did. I picked it up multiple times, read a little bit, put it down, re-read it again—but I just couldn’t get past the writing. The story itself was interesting at first look. It followed a girl, her friends, and family, as aliens invade earth and her hometown is wiped off the map. There was action, mystery, and from what I saw of the story, the characters were well fleshed out.

But all was not hugs and puppies. I had a serious problem with not only the logic of the character’s decisions but also the way the story itself was written. There was an obvious moment in the first four chapters of the book where the main character and her best friend witness an electrical surge, and the traffic lights and other electrical systems start to fail all over town…I mean, power poles fell. Then, she gets home to where her brother and his friends are having trouble getting the TV to work, and instead of mentioning that something weird is going on with the electrical grid – something that was still very fresh in her and her friend’s mind and should have stuck out as odd – she basically tells them “did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in?” I was mystified that the main character would completely skim over the fact that something was so obviously wrong and not mention it to anyone.

The writing itself, though, was my largest complaint. It started off okay. The characters were a little cliché, but nothing stood out too much. Then, I noticed moments where the author messed up the POV. The fourth wall was broken. Things that should have been said in dialogue, were stated in the narrative. Words were left out of sentences. At points, the narrative said one thing, and then the characters showed me something contradictory. Exclamation points were used in abundance! Everywhere!

It got to the point where the writing style just devolved into an overdramatic mess of exclamation points and declarations, and when I got to a sentence that read “It was punishing, pushing beyond any level of tolerance, and blasting their sanity.” I was just done.

The style of the narrative just wasn’t something I enjoyed, and though I tried to push past it and into the story, every time I picked the book back up to give it another chance, I’d run into another narrative problem that made me roll my eyes and kept me from wanting to read any further. I have no doubt that there is someone out there that will love this story… but they’re the type of person who’s going to have to be okay looking past the  inadequacies of the writing, and that’s just not something I’m able to do.