Book Review: Her Fated Alpha

her fated alphaTitle: Her Fated Alpha [Chelsea’s Alpha 1]

Author: Robert Warden

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

I’m a vampire huntress. Yet I get imprinted on by a pack alpha.

I come from a long, extensive family of vampire hunters. I moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take care of my little sister, also a vampire huntress. But trouble calls me on speed dial and I discover a string of murders in town at the hands of a vampire.

This isn’t a normal vamp, though. He’s playing with dark magic, something I’ve never dealt with before. On top of that, there’s a wolf pack in town and their alpha, Tyler Perkins, has fallen head over heels for me. To make matters worse, my sister dies at the hands of the vampire.

Could my life get anymore effed up?

But in the pursuit of justice, I start warming up to Tyler and things get steamy between us. He helps me take on the vampire and his nest, who become a threat to his pack. I start to wonder if Tyler and I were destined to meet. As the fire and passion burn brighter than ever between us, I get my answer: he’s my fated alpha.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was awful. Hands down. I picked it up free, and I still feel like I wasted my money. I will hand it to the cover artist – the cover is gorgeous, which is what gave me some hope going into the story that it was going to be decent… but I was gravely mistaken. I only got about two chapters into the book before I DNF’d it.

So what went wrong? The writing. It’s stilted and choppy – lacking any sense of flow or pacing. The wording of the most basic sentences is weak and strangely put together, as if the author didn’t speak English as a first language. The characters were dramatic in the most annoying ways, and the narrative voice kept pointing out small details that didn’t matter to the story. At all.

The main male lead’s 1st chapter (chapter 2) was so insufferably weak and whiney that I threw the book down and gave up. Maybe the plot was interesting, maybe the characters had some redeeming qualities. Maybe the book gets better… I don’t know. I could not push past how terrible the writing was from a technical standpoint. Overall, this book gets a pass from me. I can’t recommend it to readers, and honestly… if you can get through the first few chapters, I tip my hat to you. That takes some serious willpower.

Book Review: Twin Crowns

twin crownsTitle: Twin Crowns [Twin Crowns 1]

Author: Catherine Doyle & Katherine Webber

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to return to the place of her parents’ murder and usurp the only survivor, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves. Or she would, if only a certain palace guard wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic didn’t have a habit of causing trouble…

Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility. Marriage into a brutal kingdom awaits, and she will not let a small matter like waking up in the middle of the desert in the company of an extremely impertinent (and handsome) kidnapper get in the way of her royal duty. But life outside the palace walls is wilder and more beautiful than she ever imagined, and the witches she has long feared might turn out to be the family she never knew she was missing.

Two sisters separated at birth and raised into entirely different worlds are about to get to know each other’s lives a whole lot better. But as coronation day looms closer and they each strive to claim their birthright, the sinister Kingsbreath, Willem Rathborne, becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

My favorite part of this book, was the cover – and oh my lord is that cover gorgeous – but that’s about the nicest thing I can say. I didn’t finish this book. By 10% into the story, I was bored out of my mind. The narrative was written much like a Disney film – it was pretty and dramatic and filled with bubbly characters, but there was no grit to it. No reality.
 
The characters were flat and spoke as if they belonged in a cartoon. The princess had people squish bugs for her and threw tantrums. She was painfully naïve and unlikeable in the worst way. Wren was, as you’d expect, the exact opposite. She was calloused and rough-and-tumble… but still squealed in delight over wearing a dress. It was disappointing to find them so cookie-cutter in how they were characterized.
 
The whole story lacked depth. The writing itself wasn’t bad from a technical standpoint – it was clear, easy to read, and the pacing was even – but I grew so bored waiting for the plot to reveal itself past the trope of “twins switch places”. I get it. It’s funny, there are hijinks – I am an identical twin, and I get it. I did the switch thing too… but it’s been so overdone. This is truly a princess and the pauper situation. I just, expected more, and I’m a little sad that the whole thing turned out to be so shallow.
 
If you like Disney films, and you’re looking for a juvenile-geared read about princesses and tropes, then you’ll probably like this story a lot. Some people like that, and it’s okay… but if you’re looking for a YA story full of detail and depth and fantastic characterization… you aren’t going to find that here. This is one I’d pass on.

Book Review: Wounded Little Gods

woundedlittlegodsTitle: Wounded Little Gods

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Folklore, Fantasy

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Regina was born and raised in the small town of Heridos, where gods and spirits walked the earth.

Until they didn’t. Ten years ago, the town’s harvest failed utterly, and the people—believing the gods had abandoned them–left their farms and moved on.

Now, on a Friday before a long weekend, Regina ends her workday at an office in Makati, and walks home with a new colleague, Diana. Following a strange and disturbing conversation between them, Diana does not show up at work on Monday, nor Tuesday, nor Wednesday.

On Thursday, Regina finds a folded piece of paper In her bag. In Diana’s handwriting are two names and a strange map that will send Regina back to her hometown. Here, in her quest to find Diana, she encounters rumors of genetic experiments, stumbles upon a strange facility that no one seems to know about, finds herself in places that don’t exist, and discovers that people are not who they seem to be. And the biggest question in the bizarre chain of events is not what, or how, but why?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book. It was… strange. Interesting. Different. The story was written in a unique fashion, some of which I enjoyed – mainly the viewpoint of Regina. Other parts… not so much – the viewpoint of the little spirits. The book was an amalgamation of fantasy, folklore, mystery, and… I hesitate to say horror, but I don’t know how else to classify experimenting on small children in a remote village. It was like two separate stories with two very different genres became intertwined by a single point in time and location.

For the most part, the book was very well written, though hard to follow at times because of the differences in culture that I’m not used to. It was certainly interesting though, if a bit short. If you’re looking for something to read that’s a bit different from your usual story, I’d recommend this one, because even if it doesn’t end up being your favorite book, it’s certainly a journey worth taking.

Book Review: Wild Witchcraft

wildwitchcraftTitle: Wild Witchcraft

Author: Rebecca Beyer

Genre: Non-Fiction, Witchcraft, Foraging

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Witchcraft is wild at heart, calling us into a relationship with the untamed world around us. Through the power of developing a relationship with plants, a witch—beginner or experienced—can practice their art more deeply and authentically by interacting with the beings that grow around us all. Bridging the gap between armchair witchcraft and the hedge witches of old, Wild Witchcraft empowers you to work directly with a wide variety of plants and trees safely and sustainably.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What I really appreciated about this book, was the obvious amount of heavy research that went into it. There is so much information involved in this book, everything from practical gardening knowledge, to a look at the historical roots of herbs being used in witch craft. This is not one of those books where you can flip through and get a few facts – it’s pretty extensive.

I loved that with each plant listed, you got not only information on how and where to grow it, but the historical uses of it in folklore and witchcraft, how long till you can harvest it, and what foods and medicines it’s used in. There’s even a brief section on poisons and their effects (clearly with a warning not to use them under any circumstances), and also good foraging practices to help preserve nature and resources. I was impressed by just how much information was presented.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in witchcraft, foraging, and herbs as a solid place to start and gain some practical knowledge.

Book Review: Bedeviled

bedeviledTitle: Bedeviled [Bride of Hades 1]

Author: Victoria Evers

Genre: Urban, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

My name is Scarlett Mason, and on the surface, I’m just your average college student. What you don’t know: demons, Fae, Hellhounds, vampiric sorcerers, and a whole slew of creatures from the Underworld are very much real, and they walk among us. How do I know this? I’ve been training since I was ten years old to become a hunter in the hopes I’ll be able to find the monster responsible for killing my parents. But you know what they say about even the best laid plans…

After a gorgeous psycho kidnaps me, I find myself trapped on a hidden island with him and his posse of Underworld assassins. I’ve spent my entire adolescence learning how to slay their very kind…so why are these men claiming they can help me? As it turns out, we have a mutual enemy: Hell’s very own Crown Prince of Greed. Even better, he’s looking for a bride, and he hopes to find her at the Underworld’s most illustrious masquerade ball. The thought of going should be terrifying, but it offers so much more than the world’s worst love match.
Revenge.

This Cinderella may be going to one Hell of a ball, but I’m not interested in dancing with Prince Charming. Nope, my plans involve a dagger…and the left side of his chest. Hey, it’s my party. I can kill if I want to.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was not expecting how spectacularly good this book was. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the blurb. I saw “bride of hades” series and a pretty cover, and figured it’d be yet another Persephone + Hades retelling. Which is awesome, but certainly not what I got.

This book was so wonderfully complex – filled with plots upon subplots, multiple love interests, twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and fantastic characters. The book was well-written, fast-paced, and filled with some pretty sultry men. I was blown away. I didn’t run into obvious typos or plot holes, every character was interesting and had their own, often hidden, motives. It was ridiculously fun to read, and I loved every minute of it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy romances. I’m 100% going to be picking up further books in the series.

Book Review: The Nature of Witches

thenatureofwitchesTitle: The Nature of Witches

Author: Rachel Griffin

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was phenomenal. Full stop. It was possibly the best book I’ve read thus far this year, and I can only hope in my wildest dreams another book will surpass it before the year is through – though I very much doubt it. Not only was the narrative beautifully written, but the book was well paced, and had wonderful characters. The romance between Clara and Sang was gloriously sweet and tender, and I adored reading every second of their time spent together.

The author did a spectacular job of building the world of the witches and the shaders, and making the magic of the seasonal witches feel tangible to the reader. I loved how aspects of modern day witchcraft and it’s ties with nature, the seasons, and the sun and moon intertwined with the fantasy of the story. I am in awe that this was a debut book by the author, and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

If you like Young Adult Fantasy Romances, I would sincerely recommend this book – you will love it.

Book Review: Fated To Her Feral Mate

fatedtoherferalmateTitle: Fated To Her Feral Mate [Rejected & Reborn 1]

Author: Haley Weir

Genre: Urban Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Nessa

A new start. At thirty-eight, maybe I’m a bit old to throw all my belongings in the back of my pickup truck and head to New York City.
But it’s now or never, and life is too short for never.

I believe in taking life by the horns. Mastering my own destiny. So when I run into a rugged man with messy auburn hair and a dangerous smile…

Why does this feel like fate?

Rory

She was never supposed to be here.

I’d given up on ever finding my mate. Until I ran into her–literally–as she was fighting a losing battle with a turnstile.

I look into her eyes and I know. She’s meant to be mine.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Someone is killing shifters in this city and, as my pack’s alpha, it’s up to me to get to the bottom of this.

Stay away, honey. My smile is nice, but you won’t survive my teeth.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was so disappointed with this book. I honestly think it could have been way better than it was if only the pacing was fixed. The plot was interesting, I liked the characters (okay, not the creepy landlord, but that was a given), and the romance was almost sweet in a way – all good things… but the pacing ruined it.

What could have been a fantastic paranormal read ended up being little more than a short story. Major plot points were resolved almost instantly – I mean, it was laughable how quickly everything was tied up. There was no tension to hold the story together, and it felt like the main characters were falling in love in less than two chapters. It was ridiculous.

The only reason I gave this book three full stars is because I didn’t hate it. It had some good points, and I enjoyed reading it to an extent, but it lacked real substance. This is a great book if you just need a quick feel-good read to pick up while you’re in a waiting room, but this isn’t a story you’re going to be able to sink into and truly enjoy.

Book Review: Kingdomless

kingdomlessTitle: Kingdomless [Evamore Series 1]

Author: Michelle Garyfalakis

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom’s adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle’s amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all the kingdoms, and a threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle’s shoulders, she can’t help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty and determined, she is torn between her attraction to King Veras’ good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or to dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Kingdomless by Michelle Garyfalakis – even if it wasn’t perfect.

I’m not a huge fan of the love-triangle trope, especially when it isn’t written in such a way that both love interests are equally appealing. Unfortunately, it was easy to see throughout this book that one romance choice for the main character was going to be the wrong choice – and the lukewarm interest the main character held for one of the men just didn’t hold enough weight to make me doubt the obvious choice of the other one. I never doubted who she was going to end up with, even though the author tried her hardest to persuade me otherwise.

Messy love interests aside, the book was well-written, if a little predictable. I loved the main character, and her spitfire banter with some of the other characters. There was a lot of good comradery between the various characters that I found especially enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the evil-step-mother, because, frankly, that’s been done to death and she had zero personality outside of her role, but otherwise, I felt all of the characters were well-defined.

Don’t let these few points fool you though – the book was good. I loved the plot, the majority of the characters, and the witty dialogue. The princess could be a bit naïve, but she wasn’t a helpless damsel (well, she did faint a few times). I was enthralled with the story once I got into it, despite the few things that bothered me, and read through the entire thing in one sitting. I think if you can look past the couple of poorly done tropes, this is a solid story, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fantasy Romances.

Book Review: Gone Dark

gonedarkTitle: Gone Dark

Author: Amanda Panitch

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When seventeen-year-old Zara escaped her father’s backwoods survivalist compound five years ago, she traded crossbows and skinning hides for electricity and video games…and tried to forget the tragedy that drove her away.

Until a malware attack on the United States electrical grids cuts off the entire country’s power.

In the wake of the disaster and the chaos that ensues, Zara is forced to call upon skills she thought she’d never use again—and her best bet to survive is to go back to the home she left behind. Drawing upon a resilience she didn’t know she had, Zara leads a growing group of friends on an epic journey across a crumbling country back to her father’s compound, where their only hope for salvation lies.

But with every step she takes, Zara wonders if she truly has what it takes to face her father and the secrets of her past, or if she’d be better off hiding in the dark.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch. Though I’ve seen similar plots, especially recently, the author did a fantastic job of making the story more Young Adult friendly, even given the sometimes gruesome but realistic content. It was easy to see that the book was well thought-out.

It was also well-written. I read an early-reader-copy, and still only ran into one or two typographical errors, and none that were immersion-breaking. The characters were interesting and flawed, and each approached the apocalypse differently.

Overall, I think the author did a fantastic job, and I’m happy to recommend the book to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Apocalyptic Fiction with a bit of a thriller thrown in for good measure.

Book Review: Wakers

wakersTitle: Wakers

Author: Orson Scott Card

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Laz is a side-stepper: a teen with the incredible power to jump his consciousness to alternate versions of himself in parallel worlds. All his life, there was no mistake that a little side-stepping couldn’t fix.

Until Laz wakes up one day in a cloning facility on a seemingly abandoned Earth.

Laz finds himself surrounded by hundreds of other clones, all dead, and quickly realizes that he too must be a clone of his original self. Laz has no idea what happened to the world he remembers as vibrant and bustling only yesterday, and he struggles to survive in the barren wasteland he’s now trapped in. But the question that haunts him isn’t why was he created, but instead, who woke him up…and why?

There’s only a single bright spot in Laz’s new life: one other clone appears to still be alive, although she remains asleep. Deep down, Laz believes that this girl holds the key to the mysteries plaguing him, but if he wakes her up, she’ll be trapped in this hellscape with him.
This is one problem that Laz can’t just side-step his way out of.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I debated for a while over how to rate this book. I’m a big fan of the author, so I was over the moon to get ahold of a review copy. I will add the caveat that the copy I read was an ARC, so there were several formatting and typographical errors that most likely will be cleaned up for the sale copies, but we’ll set that aside.

The plot of this book, the world-building, and the philosophically-0bent science of it all was fantastic. In general, I liked the characters, and the writing was clear and easy to follow.

But it wasn’t perfect. My biggest complaint about the book is the narrative voice. The narrator sounded like an author. Vocabulary was used that didn’t fit the age of the characters. Laz and Ivy barely had any personality, and their emotions didn’t ring true – it made them sound like soulless robots. If the story hadn’t been as solid, it would have ruined the book for me. I just couldn’t feel any connection to them as people.

Overall? I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. I was entertained and I enjoyed reading it, even if it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t feel like a Young Adult book. It felt like an adult book that just happened to have Young Adult characters – but without any of the fun things that make adult books adult.