Book Review: Calvacade

reviewcover-calvacadeTitle: Calvacade [The Calvacade Chronicles 1]

Author: Cindy Winget

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Dragons, giants, and mermaids are only real in fairy tales, right? That’s what Candace used to think.

hen one stormy night, her little brother goes missing and she is visited by a stranger who reveals to her that he is a wizard. He hands her a magical amulet called the Zindrel Gias and sends her on a quest to save a fellow wizard named Gildrid from the evil clutches of a powerful mage named Enchantra.

Just after Candace enters Calvacade, she is attacked by a troll who steals the Zindrel Gias. She is rescued by a unicorn named Isteadious, who agrees to accompany her on her journey where they meet a host of creatures and people—including the handsome temporary king—who join them on their expedition.

Will this ragtag group of misfits be able to stop the scourge of Enchantra as she attempts to take over Calvacade? Can Candace learn to use the Zindrel Gias in defense of her new friends? Will she ever find her missing brother? Find out in this new and upcoming novel by Cindy Winget. Time is running out as Candace and her friends battle changelings, lightning wraiths, goblins, and much much more.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

As much as I wanted to, I could not get into Calvacade by Cindy Winget.

Here’s my main issue: the book is categorized as “children’s fiction”. It’s meant for those between the ages of 8 and 18 – which is an immense range for a book. The main character, Candace, is 17 years old and opens the book by being on a date. The date itself doesn’t feel like a teenager type of date – it feels like something much older… but here’s the rub… the narrative itself is written like a middle-grade book. It is incredibly juvenile, and not in the way a Young Adult book would be.

I think the author made a mistake in trying to make the book widely available to a broad range of ages when they should have been focusing on a smaller group. The main character is too old to be the protagonist of a middle-grade book – the issues she faces and the scenarios she’s put in are outside the realm of what a younger reader will be interested in and understand. On the other side of things, the writing itself is too geared towards the younger audience to keep the attention of the older readers. It’s a complete mess, and I think the author really missed the mark with it.

That aside, and perhaps because the writing itself is geared towards a younger audience, the narrative is poorly written. There’s an abundance of overused exclamations and rhetorical questions. The dialogue is overly dramatic in a similar way and doesn’t flow well. There were several times I was jolted out of the story by the author suddenly changing topics unnaturally in the middle of a scene.

I think this book suffers from a lack of an experienced editor, and I found I couldn’t enjoy it. There may be others out there that can set these issues aside and continue to read and enjoy the book, but sadly, I am not one of them. There are better books out there if you are looking for a fun fantasy read.

Book Review: Lost Girl

cover-review-lost girlTitle: Lost Girl [The Neverwood Chronicles 1]

Author: Chanda Hahn

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Thriller, Adventure, Science Fiction, Paranormal

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Wendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.

A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn was a familiar story with a science fiction twist that was both delightful and fast paced. The author did an excellent job of taking the well-known children’s story of Peter Pan and twisting it into a face-paced YA Thriller/Romance. There were themes of genetic manipulation, human testing, super-powers, and even a taste of the supernatural.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. At times the repetitive use of character names could come off as a bit overdone, but it was easy to understand why the author chose to do it. The style of the book was easy to follow and understand for teen readers without dumbing it down too much or over-hinting at any of the story twists. There were some surprising twists and turns to the story, and I found the characters complex enough to hold my interest despite their familiarity. The romance was expected, but intriguing once the unfamiliar character of Jax was introduced.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would certainly consider moving on in the series. I’ll be interested in seeing how this series pans out.

Book Review: Midnight Burning

review-cover-midnight burningTitle: Midnight Burning [The Norse Chronicles 1]

Author: Karissa Laurel

Genre: Mythology, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, I’m not sure how best to categorize Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel. Going into the story I didn’t know a lot about the book, and at first, I was under the mistaken impression that this was going to be a werewolf-oriented paranormal romance. Don’t ask me why. It was so much more than that.

The book was part romance, part paranormal thriller with a whole lot of Nordic mythology thrown in.

The plot was interesting and complex, filled with healthy doses of danger, a smoldering love triangle and supernatural powers woven together with a new spin on a very old mythos. I was engrossed from the very beginning. The book was well written, fast paced, and I never felt the need to pause, re-read, or put the book down until the very end. The characters were complex and distinct (with the exception of some of the minor Valkyrie characters, but who cares?).

Honestly, my only real complaint about the book at all is that I was kind of perturbed by the abrupt ending. It seemed like just when the romance was about to break through into something juicy, the book ended. My inner fangirl died a little as I was really looking forward to seeing where the relationship between Solina and Thorin might go. Instead, the situation was left open-ended. On one hand, I understand. I’m sure (read: I hope) there will be further books in this series that will delve further into the romance, but on the other hand, my romance-reader heartfelt unfulfilled.

Either way, it was a good book. I loved the mythos, the danger, Solina’s ever-growing and out of control powers…and I can’t really argue the ending because although it wasn’t what I wanted, it was intriguing. I enjoyed my peek into the work of this new author, and I can’t wait to see how this story will evolve as the series goes on.

If you’re looking for a solid paranormal thriller with a bit of romance and mythology mixed in, I’d highly recommend you check this book out.

Book Review : Emerge

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Title: Emerge [Mer Chronicles 1]

Author: Tobie Easton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Sysnopsis:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Emerge by Tobie Easton is one of those books I could easily dismiss as a 5 star read because it’s a YA book and call it a day. “It’s meant for kids” seems to be a popular mantra when it comes to explaining away plot holes and inconsistencies. I’m not going to do that, though, because as good as this book was—and don’t get me wrong, it was good—there were certainly some world building problems that dragged this down to a 4 star read for me.

First, though, let’s get the technical bits out of the way. The book was exceedingly well written/edited. I didn’t run into any obvious typos grammatical mistakes or inconsistencies. The narrative flowed well and at a steady pace throughout. I was engaged by the narrative voice from the very beginning all the way to the end of the book.

The cast of characters was colorful and for the most part, likable (except for Mel and her father) and overall, well characterized.

In fact, except for the way the mermaid’s anatomy and their homes were handled, I don’t have much to complain about. I know it’s easy to dismiss the mermaid aspects of the story because it’s a YA Fantasy novel… but I wasn’t buying it. The mishmash of fantasy and uncomfortably awkward way the mermaid’s transformation was handled made for a strange chunk of world building. I found it hard to follow along with how the mermaid architecture and the how the intricacies of underwater life worked. Maybe I’m being a nitpicker, but it didn’t work for me.

That aside, I loved the book. I loved almost everything about it, and I’m glad I read it in the end. I think it’d make a great addition to any mermaid lover’s bookshelf, and let’s be honest here… who doesn’t love mermaids?

Book Review: Searching For Dragons

 

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Title: Searching For Dragons [Enchanted Forest Chronicles 2]

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Children’s, Juvenile, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper, is back—but where is Kazul the dragon? That’s what Cimorene is determined to find out.

Luckily—or perhaps not-so-luckily—she’s got help: Mendanbar, the not-very-kingly King of the Enchanted Forest, has joined her in her quest. So with the aid of a broken-down magic carpet, a leaky magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water, they set off across the Enchanted Forest to tackle the dragon-napping and save the King of the Dragons.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I cannot get enough of this series. Like the previous book in the series, Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons is a hilarious, witty romp of Juvenile Fantasy. The book follows Cimorene, a princess who doesn’t very much like the idea of being a princess, as she sets out on a mission to discover what has happened to Kazul, the King of the Dragons—her employer—who has gone mysteriously missing. She teams up with Mendanbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, as well as Morwen the Witch and Telemain the Sorcerer in order to defeat the conniving wizards in their plot to steal the magic out of the Enchanted Forest.

I’ll admit, even as an adult, this is still one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek fantasy series of all time. The characters are hilariously witty and sometimes outright absurd. Patricia C. Wrede has managed to piece together a children’s fiction that is both clever in it’s storyline, and deliciously fun for any age of reader.

In this particular story, I enjoyed the new dynamic of having a love interest pop up for Cimorene. I wasn’t sure how Ms. Wrede was going to handle a decidedly adult topic in a children’s book, but I think she handled it spectacularly well. I’ve been sharing this particular series with a 10-year old in my family over the past few weeks and we both squealed like the girls we are when the romance sub-plot of this story started to unfold. I think the author did a great job of building up the romance in a way that wasn’t in-your-face, and remained comfortable for younger audiences, while still managing to reach the point where the romance felt satisfying between the characters with little more than a few stolen kisses.

Honestly, I don’t have anything I can criticize this book for. The series is great, the novel was brilliant. I can’t wait to read book 3! Overall, I really enjoyed this story—every bit as much as the first—and I’d be happy to read it again, and share it with others. I highly recommend it for anyone who may have a younger family member to share it with, but it’s equally as entertaining for any adult who enjoys silly fantasy. I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Book Review: Found

 

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Title: Found [The Crescent Chronicles 3]

Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Urban

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Levi might be hot, strong, and have a cool set of wings, but it’s not enough to make up for keeping Allie in the dark.

Allie’s tired of being left with more questions than answers. She’s tired of loving a guy who refuses to level with her. Most of all, she’s tired of her life spinning out of control.

Desperate to save Jess no matter the personal cost, Allie has to face the possibility that the only one she can trust is herself.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I think out of the three books in this series, Found is possibly my favorite, though it’s hard to explain why. Like the previous books, this one followed a very similar pattern to me of what did and did not work. The technical side of the writing was well-paced and well-written. I didn’t notice any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and the whole book kept a pretty even, jaunty pace throughout. I didn’t feel rushed, and I didn’t feel bogged down.

Like it’s predecessors, it did lack a bit of detail. The author has this somewhat frustrating penchant for never describing the atmosphere and visual aspects of any of the locals in these books. Instead, it seems the smallest, most irrelevant things (like the dresses that at this point we know are always going to be short and red) usually hog all the descriptive detail. I’ve gotten used to it over the course of the trilogy, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my displeasure.

As for the world building: we’re still talking bare bones. The world the author has painted for us in the Crescent Chronicles is one that I feel had a lot of potential. There’s this ominous court of supernaturals and an unfathomable hierarchy of creatures and royalty that is never truly explained. I would have loved to see the world filled out a little more, because I think given some more time, the author could have made it truly spectacular, but as it stands, the supernatural aspect of these books feels almost like a side-note to the true core of this story: the characterization.

The characters of this trilogy are truly the high-point of the author’s abilities. Regardless of the sometimes sickeningly sweet dialogue between the main couple, for the most part, the characters act with a great deal of depth and believability throughout this series. They aren’t always rational, pleasant, or smart people, but they act as I’d expect any true person to act. They are fallible and likeable—and that is a great indicator of the author’s writing ability.

I really enjoyed the dynamics of the character’s relationships this time around. Unlike the first two books, I didn’t feel quite as frustrated with Allie and Levi’s relationship—though I will admit that I was a bit creeped out by the fact he knew what she was and never said anything. Seriously, can the guy not act like an ass for once? Still, I was happy to see the couple going strong, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to get to know some of the other characters better in this installment to the series.

I will say: The sex scenes didn’t get any better—and believe me, there are a ton of them in this story. It’s odd to me that the author would include so many sex scenes and yet every single one of them feels incomplete and glossed over. They aren’t steamy in the slightest, in fact, for the most part, huge sections of the scenes are skipped over. It’s as if the author leads up with the urgency for the act, goes through the motions of stripping the characters down, and then POOF, it’s the end and they’re talking about how awesome it is. I want to see the awesome! I don’t know if the author is uncomfortable with the sex scenes (which seems silly considering how many scenes there are) or if she simply isn’t good at writing them. Regardless, they certainly left something to be desired, and didn’t improve even this far into the series.

That aside, I really enjoyed the book. There was a lot more action, mystery, and thrills involved in this installment that kept me enthralled right up until the very end, and I enjoyed nearly every moment of it. It was nice to see Allie finally stepping up and showing some of that kick-ass attitude I always suspected she had, and while the ending was a little overly mushy for my tastes, I was happy with how the issue of the throne resolved itself between the three contenders.

Would I read this again? Certainly. Though I didn’t expect to, I really enjoyed the series. Would I recommend it? Without a doubt. I know I’ll be watching out for more of the author’s work. I would like to say though: If you really want to enjoy this series, you can’t expect to go into these stories thinking of this like your typical paranormal romance. If you do, you’ll be disappointed. The strength in this series lies with the characterizations of the characters, not necessarily in the world building or the sexy bits like most novels in these genre’s. I think with an open mind, it could be very easy to enjoy this series…just leave your preconceptions at the door.

Book Review: Focus

 

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Title: Focus [The Crescent Chronicles 2]

Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Urban

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Freshman year of college is hard even when you’re not tied to the future king of a supernatural society.

Allie dives into college head first with Hailey as her roommate and the city of New Orleans as her backyard. As things within The Society heat up, Allie realizes that whether she’s with Levi or not, she’s in far too deep to turn back.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Like it’s predecessor, Focus fell into the iffy gray area between a 3 and a 4 star rating for me. While my overall impression is that I really liked the book, there were definitely some draw backs about this novel that made me cringe.

As far the the writing goes, like Flight (Book 1 of this series), this book was well written. Technically speaking there weren’t a lot of typos or grammatical mistakes, and the narrative moved along at a decent speed throughout. There was still a decided lack of overall detail, but it didn’t bother me as much in this book as it did the first, I think in part because the dynamics between the characters were so tense, that I got caught up in that aspect of the story.

Also like it’s predecessor, the depth of characterization in this novel really stood out to me. I genuinely like all of the characters—even the awful ones. It seemed that I got to see a different side of the main couple throughout this book, and it was nice to see their situation from the opposite stance it took in the first book.

At the end of the previous novel I was quite disturbed by Levi’s interactions with Allie. He came across as pushy, domineering, and a little skeazy to be honest. I was dead set at the end that if Allie was going to be a good female lead, she’d have to make the choice to leave Levi.

Going into this book however, my position changed. Levi came across (perhaps as he should have in the first book) as more endearing and sweet. He was nearly desperate to get back into Allie’s good graces (as well he should be after his glaring mistakes in handling their situation in the first place), and instead, Allie was the character who quickly fell out of my favor. I don’t know that it was a conscious effort on the author’s part to narrate this part of the couple’s relationship the way it came across, but I felt as if the situation Allie found herself in by the mid-point of this book was a very realistic, if imperfect position.

Whereas in the previous book Allie was completely justified in distancing herself from her relationship with Levi (and I fully supported her!), there eventually came a point in this novel where she surpassed the line of what should have been considered a reasonable punishment and ventured into being a bitch. (excuse my label). The longer she drew out this situation of ignoring Levi and denying him any sort of romantic or physical crumbs, the closer she came to pushing not only Levi, but me, too far. When she came to the point where she realized she loved Levi, was able to admit that to herself, and still denied him forgiveness, I grew angry. As a reader, I was ready to give in and have Levi back in my good graces, and Allie wasn’t.

On the one hand, that really irritated me, but on the other, I can understand the position she’s found herself in. There are times in relationships when things don’t go as perfectly scripted as we’d like them to. Allie hit that point, and she made the wrong decision because she was afraid. So although it made me angry at the time, I’m glad the author made these characters fallible. I think it added a layer of depth to the story that I’m not sure everyone will pick up on, and I’m glad that I was someone who could.

That aside, like Flight, I think to enjoy this book you’ll have to approach the story as a delve into the intricacies of relationships—those between friends, family, and lovers, and although there are some action and paranormal aspects, I don’t think think those are the main focus. If you go into this story expecting exceptional world building, cuddly romances and thrilling supernatural occurrences, you’re going to be disappointed.

Another thing that stuck out for me in this book (and maybe the whole series, I don’t know… there wasn’t that much of it in the first book, and I haven’t read the third) is the underwhelming sex scenes. I didn’t notice it so much in the first book because there was only one sex scene…but in the second book, Focus, it became blatantly obvious that sex scenes are not this author’s forte. I’ll put it out in the open: There were a lot of sex scenes in this book. Unfortunately, they were very short, not descriptive in the least, and for the most part, completely glossed over. This of course leads me to ask: why bother putting them in?

It’s not so much that they were glossed over that bugs me—if you don’t feel comfortable having sex scenes in a book, fine… leave them out—but if you’re going to have them, especially in a primarily romance book such as this, you should do them right. They should mean something for the couple, or at least show the audience an aspect of their relationship that helps build its believability. It shouldn’t be watered down to the point where I can skip a paragraph and completely miss it. In that case, what was the point of writing the scene in the first place other than to fill space?

Overall, this isn’t the best book of it’s kind that I’ve read, but it was enjoyable. I think if you can approach it from the angle of viewing it as a characterization of the relationships between several people, instead of a sexy fast-paced adventure into the supernatural, you’ll enjoy it more. This isn’t going to be for everyone. Would I read it again? Certainly. Would I recommend it? Yes. I’m planning to get into the third book and see how Allie and Levi’s story pans out shortly. Just be aware of what you’re going into when you read this series—it’s not going to come across as what most people are expecting from a series like this. Had I gone into this knowing that it was labeled a paranormal romance, I don’t think my rating of this novel would have been as high—but because I tend to ignore synopsis and genre’s, I am able to stand back and see the book for what it is, not what it should have been—and that is what I am basing my rating upon.

Book Review: Flight

 

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Title: Flight [The Crescent Chronicles 1]

Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Urban

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A summer in New Orleans is exactly what Allie needs before starting college. Accepting her dad’s invitation to work at his hotel offers an escape from her ex-boyfriend and the chance to spend the summer with her best friend. Meeting a guy is the last thing on her mind—until she sees Levi.

Unable to resist the infuriating yet alluring Levi, Allie finds herself at the center of a supernatural society and forced to decide between following the path she has always trusted or saving a city that might just save her.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have some pretty mixed feelings about this novel. Going into this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know much about the series, and I hadn’t taken the time to read the synopsis. Right away, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually well written. The book was remarkably free of typos, missing words, or grammar mistakes that I’m used to seeing in many e-books these days, in fact, one of the first things I noticed about the book was the clear, fluid writing.

If there’s one thing I could peg on the author, it’s great characterization. I was immediately drawn to Allie and her best friend from the very start of the book. The two girls couldn’t be any more different, but it was easy to see why the girls were friends. The banter between the characters started out strong and really struck a cord as being believable—and that’s something I’ve found to be rare in a lot of fiction. Dialogue isn’t easy to write, and the author did a spectacular job of it.

Here’s where things got tricky. The story started off strong—as I said, the writing was clear, the characters had unique personalities, and the dialogue was well written. Unfortunately, I began to notice that the narrative lacked. The author didn’t spend a lot of time on descriptions of anything relevant. I could tell you, for instance, that Allie’s Range Rover was lavender—a color she didn’t particularly care for (Her favorite color is Blue by the way, and she apparently looks great in Red)—but I can’t tell you what Allie looks like. I know her best friend is blonde, but I can’t tell you if she’s short, skinny, or what color eyes she may have. The author had this strange way of glossing over all descriptions except for the most irrelevant details.

For instance: At one point an entire paragraph is spent on the wainscoting, chandelier, and travertine tiles of the hotel floor, but the very next paragraph when the main male lead was identified the entirety of his description fell to: “incredibly hot guy” with “muscular arms and chest”. It made no sense to me why certain aspects of the scene were elaborated upon, but others were left entirely by the wayside. This continued to be a theme throughout the book, and while it served to quicken the pace of the chapters, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing out on important information from time to time.

As for the plot: I would label this as more of a romance than a fantasy/paranormal read. Yes, there are supernatural beings in the story; however, the majority of the book is spent on Allie’s relationship with Levi, and little else. That’s fine. I like romances, but don’t go into this thinking you’re going to get a plethora of world building and action scenes (which are typical in fantasy/paranormal novels) it’s mostly going to be about relationships.

Now, before I press any further, let me say: I really enjoyed this book. Despite the little flaws in the narrative and the lack of a full plot, I liked it. I loved the characters, I loved the dialogue, I loved the feel of the relationship that was at the heart of the story—but this isn’t what I’d call a true Romance. If you have an objection to spoilers, I suggest you skip this section, I’ll signal when the spoilers are over. Let me explain:

SPOILERS: From the very beginning of Allie and Levi’s relationship, he was pushy. The man wouldn’t take no for an answer, and basically followed her around, inserting himself into her life until she gave in and consented to go out with him. In real life, this would be incredibly creepy. In a book, I can usually let it slide as long as the Romance turns out to be a real heart-felt relationship. Novels are meant to be a form of escapism, and it’s okay to enjoy a bit of the dark pleasure that comes along with this kind of broody, pushy male. (By no means assume this is okay in real life though.) The guy thought he was being charming, and had already fallen head-over-heals for Allie, so while he may have crossed a few boundaries, I can live with it; I know he was being an ass because he didn’t know how else to win her heart… and believe me, Allie can be hard to persuade. However, as the story progressed, Levi became worse. He had obvious secrets he was keeping for Allie, and at times purposefully intimidated her. Eventually he basically forces her into an engagement by his society’s laws and doesn’t even tell her what’s going on. That’s not okay. The more he tried to apologize to her and weasel his way out of being in trouble (but still with every intention of making sure she followed through and married him) the more icky it felt to me. He stripped her of any choice in the matter, put her life in danger, and I’m not convinced he was actually sorry for it so much as sorry he got caught at it before he could make it sound like she was getting a good deal. END OF SPOILERS

The result of this (the spoilers), is that I wasn’t 100% behind their relationship by the end of the book. There were a few moments where I was ready to say “okay, he was an ass, but he really loves her, so maybe she should forgive him….” but the longer the whole sequence dragged on, the more I grew angry at Levi. By the end of the book, I wanted her to be nowhere near this guy—and to not forgive him at all. It’s almost tragic the way the book ended, and it left an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Does that mean I didn’t like the story? No. I loved it. I’m okay with the way it turned out, even if it didn’t turn out as romantic as I wanted it to. Knowing that there’s subsequent books, I’m more than willing to keep reading and see if the two characters ever iron out their relationship, but I won’t deny that I still feel uneasy about Levi. Maybe the author will clear it up for me in the next book (which I’m going to go read shortly). I hope so. I’d certainly recommend this book to others, but if you haven’t read the spoilers, I shall warn you: The romance side of this story isn’t as heart-felt and fuzzy as you’re expecting. It’s still a wonderful book (minus the few things I mentioned), but I think you have to look at it in a different way than your usual Romance in order to enjoy the way this book ends. This isn’t necessarily a story you’re going to giggle and squeal over. You’re more likely to want to punch the main male lead.

I will say this in closing: I sincerely loved the characters—even Levi—despite their flaws and actions. I think they were well written… they just weren’t written the way I expected.

Book Review: Impulse Control [Talent Chronicles 0.5]

 

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Title: Impulse Control [Talent Chronicles 0.5]

Author: Susan Bischoff

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Short Story

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the world of the Talent Chronicles, kids born with supernatural powers are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a dangerous experiment has killed two young inmates and threatens others. Ethan, a shape-shifter, is reluctantly recruited by his best friend Karen, a telepath, and Elle, the unique Talent he has a crush on, to thwart the faculty’s plans. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was extremely hesitant jumping into this novella. For those of you who regularly read my reviews, you’ll know that I greatly dislike short fiction. I like to sink myself into a story for several hours at a time and not come up for air, so shorter novellas often leave me frustrated. I find them to be rushed most of the time. This was no exception.

Being a YA fiction short story, Impulse Control was written in a very straight-forward, plain narrative that made it easy to sink into. Unfortunately, it also read a little below my usual grade level. To be honest, it felt like I was reading a middle-grade story that just happened to have YA characters. The elements of the story were a little too dramatic to be believable and the characters seemed to skim through outrageously dangerous situations with little consequence. It was hard to believe that the constant danger I was being forewarned about was as dangerous as the author kept telling me when no one seemed to get hurt or even came close to being caught.

The story was riddled with what I like to consider storytelling potholes. The children in the story were being held in a facility where their every daily tasks were monitored and the penalty for acting out was a quick ticket to a lab where the kids knew they would be experimented on and possibly even killed. However, when the children decided to sneak around the facility it was conspicuously void of guards, CCTV’s, or any sort of alarm system. The few obstacles they had to get through (like keypads) were easy to circumnavigate (despite the fact that the security in this place should have been prepared for supernatural teens)… it just wasn’t believable.

At one point, the kids are even attacked, and then joined by another teen who had shown previously that he was at least somewhat evil, but as soon as he joined the team in trying to shut the facility down, he became friendly and no one seemed to have a problem with him. It was frustrating to see the author present information (like the kid being evil, or the facility being dangerous) only to have the narrative then tell us that it wasn’t true.

The one big thumbs up for this story was the plot itself. It was intriguing. Here are these supernatural power-wielding kids stuck in a secret government facility being trained to become operatives (against their will), paired up with a darker, more sinister side where the kids lives are very much in danger. It should have been a very compelling read, and it would have been had the author stuck to their guns and made the narrative consistent.

Overall it was an okay read. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t awful either. I’d really like to see this written out into a full length story, or at the very least cleaned up and made consistent, but it was interesting, and I’m glad I read it. If you like middle-grade or YA fiction, you might like this. Adults may have a hard time getting through it because of the narrative potholes, but it’d make a cute afternoon read.