Book Review: American Queen

review-cover-american queenTitle: American Queen [New Camelot Trilogy 1]

Author: Sierra Simone

Genre: Romance, Erotica, BDSM, Ménage, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It starts with a stolen kiss under an English sky, and it ends with a walk down the aisle. It starts with the President sending his best friend to woo me on his behalf, and it ends with my heart split in two. It starts with buried secrets and dangerous desires…and ends with the three of us bound together with a hateful love sharper than any barbed wire.

My name is Greer Galloway, and I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

This is the story of an American Queen.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I need to learn to read book descriptions—I rarely do. It’s just one of those things as a book reviewer and avid reader, that I just don’t bother. So obviously, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up American Queen by Sierra Simone. All that being said, I still enjoyed this book.

BDSM isn’t my thing. I’m not a huge fan of Ménage’s, and I rather read Romance than Erotica, so when I say that I enjoyed the book, take that as high praise. This book was exceedingly well written. The narrative voice was clear and easy to read. I liked the characters, the world building was rich without being overbearing, and even if the complicated relationship between Maxen, Embry, and Greer wasn’t my cup of tea—I could still appreciate it. I was drawn into the story by the subtly crafted narrative, and I wholeheartedly believed in their love for one another. I rarely run into books so well written that I forget that their subject matter isn’t something I enjoy.

Whether you’re looking for an erotica, something with BDSM, Ménage’s, or you simply want a well-crafted book, I’d recommend you pick this one up. It’s not going to be for everyone—but it’s still a good book. You might be surprised.

Book Review: The Girl Who Talks To Ghosts

reivew-cover-the girl who talks to ghostsTitle:  The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts [GhostWriters 2]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It took me awhile to decide how I was going to rate The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff—the second book in the GhostWriters series. I honestly can’t decide if I liked it more than the first book or not. Personally, the ghost story and surrounding aspects of the plotline were a lot more interesting for me than those of the first book. I liked Lily’s POV as well as Kate’s much better than I liked Jackson’s (even though I didn’t know it at the time). It was fun following Kate around as she delved further into the paranormal than the author had been willing to in the first book.

Unfortunately, not all was hugs and puppies. I think an unfortunate consequence of Kate and Lily’s POVs being so interesting, was that Jackson fell a bit by the wayside. He was definitely more of a supporting character in this story, and honestly, kind of a useless one. He seemed to be around mostly to illustrate his ignorance about the paranormal, and to fail at being diplomatic. I don’t think he was necessarily as integral to the plot as he was intended to be, and so his character fell a bit flat.

As a smaller note, there were also a few plot holes. Most were minor, and they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole, so I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re looking for a solid paranormal ghost story, I highly recommend you check out this author and the various books in this series.

Book Review: City of Ghosts

reivew-cover-city of ghostsTitle: City of Ghosts [GhostWriters 1]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.

Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.

Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.

As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but wow, did I. City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff succeeded at not only being a creepy ghost story, but a fascinating assay into another culture, and an action-packed adventure all in one. I’m a huge horror fan, but books don’t usually creep me out—and this one did. I was up till 2 am reading, and I couldn’t stop myself from checking out the dark corners of my house—just to be sure. My attempts to pronounce Yuehai out loud to myself during my read-through made me feel as if I were conjuring her ghost into my house.

This story was well written. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting mistakes. The narrative voice was both detailed and easy-to-follow without being overbearing or poetic. The characters were interesting and although not terribly complex, I couldn’t help but like them—even the ones I grew to hate. (I’m looking at you, Meghan & Harold).

Overall—this was just a fantastic book. I read through it in a matter of hours, and I almost hated to stop and sleep (but I was only halfway in at that point, so I figured I better!) It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a ghost story that I’ve liked as much as I did this one. There were elements of the Chinese culture, a ghost story, action/adventure, human rights, and even a tad bit of a romance within its pages. If you’re looking for a good all around read, I’d highly recommend picking up this book. I’m excited to read on into the rest of the series!

Book Review: My Soul To Give

review-cover-my soul to giveTitle: My Soul To Give [A Demon’s Love 1]

Author: Magali A. Frechette

Genre: Dark Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When Celina Leviet escapes the brutal home invasion that kills her husband, she’s left with a bullet in her gut and vengeance in her heart. An alluring demon, Mekaisto, offers an irresistible deal—in exchange for her soul, he’ll let her live long enough to get her revenge, but she must hunt and kill the murderers herself.

After sealing the contract, Celina digs into her husband’s past for clues about his murder, and what she uncovers makes her question everything she thought she knew about him.

His company never existed.

His family history was a lie.

And he was involved with The Lumen, a shadowy religious order whose members know too much about demons. As the life she thought she knew crumbles around her, Mekaisto’s charms become harder to resist. Forced to face a horrible truth, Celina struggles against her late husband’s betrayal and the dark seduction of the devil she knows.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ll admit it. I have a thing about demons in my romance fiction—I love the danger of the forbidden relationship they represent, and the tension in trying to figure out if they can truly be trusted at their word… so it should be no surprise that I enjoyed My Soul To Give by Magali A. Frechette. There was certainly an aspect of danger and the forbidden to its characters and plotline, even crossing over the line a little too far at times. This was definitely not your conventional romance.

The characters were interesting, complex, and compelling. Their romance was steamy, a bit taboo, and sweet at the same time. The mystery and aspects of the murder plotline kept the story jaunting along, and I couldn’t help but get sucked into the narrative.

I don’t think this story is going to work for everyone though. There are definitely a lot of questionable aspects of the characters and plot that aren’t going to sit well with some readers, especially those who are firmly religious. If you’re one of those people, this book is not going to be for you—and it’s not meant to be.

If you’re into dark fantasy, I highly recommend you pick this one up. It was certainly a captivating read, and the ending was one I didn’t see coming!

Book Review: Protect My Heart

review-cover-protect my heartTitle: Protect My Heart

Author: Judy Corry

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Emma Howard has sworn off hot guys, but Arie Blackwell has sworn to protect her.

After a series of cheating ex-boyfriends, Emma goes on a self-prescribed boy cleanse and plans to spend her senior year focused on the important things in life, like deciding which college to attend. She has no idea she’s an heiress with a target on her back and boys are the least of her worries.

Arie thinks his college internship will be easy: pose as a high school senior and protect Emma. He never expected to fall for her.

Sparks ignite, but danger is near. If Arie can’t keep Emma hidden, her fate will be infinitely worse than falling for the guy she shouldn’t want.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

On one hand, I really liked Protect My Heart by Judy Corry. The characters were likable, the romance was cute, and there was an underlying mystery to the plotline that kept me intrigued as the story went on. The book was well written, with clean and easy to read narrative, and a narrative voice that made it easy to sink into the story.

On the other hand, there were also some rather questionable aspects of the story as well. The main male lead is 22 and falls in love (on the job no less) with the minor he’s meant to be protecting. It’s unprofessional and morally questionable. Also, the evil mob-boss-like uncle was a bit of a letdown. He came off as a terrible cliché. I was expecting something more after the lead-up of the mysterious things going on up until that point with the bodyguards and surveillance of Emma.

Overall I wouldn’t say that it was a bad book – because I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked their romance, and I enjoyed the writing. The few aspects of the plot that I didn’t appreciate as much weren’t enough to make me dislike the rest of the book. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a tiny bit of the inappropriate mixed in, you might really enjoy this story, and I do recommend it—but if the negative aspects of the plot are going to bother you, you might want to give it a pass.

Book Review: Slightly Stalky

review-cover-slightly stalkyTitle: Slightly Stalky [Slightly Stalky 1]

Author: Amy Vansant

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Emily never expected to find love in a dart bar, but the moment she spots tall, sexy Sebastian, she’s determined to catch his eye.

Ex-girlfriends, perpetually shirtless rich boys, frantic best-friends and a mysterious orange handbag converge to stop her.

No one said stalking was easy, but if romance was left to the boys, the human race would die out while they logged fantasy football points and punched each other in the balls.

Everyone knows that.

Emily’s not stalking Sebastian…she’s saving the world.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Yes, I read through the entirety of this book. No, I don’t know why—curiosity I guess? There were so many faults with this book that it’s hard to single out a few to expound upon. The main character is a desperate woman who becomes obsessed with a cute guy in a bar and basically changes herself to be what she thinks he’ll be interested in—her hobbies, her hangouts, etc.—just to place herself in his path in the hopes that he’ll notice her. It’s sad and childish and speaks to a very shallow niche of society.

The problems don’t end there though. The main male lead spends the majority of the book being weak-willed and wishy-washy. He’s already dating someone when he meets the main female lead and continues to live with his shallow ex-girlfriend all the while striking up a relationship with the new girl. It’s cringy and doesn’t speak highly of his character.

There’s a lot of manipulation going on in this book from a lot of the characters, and honestly, even though this was marketed as a romantic comedy… I didn’t see the comedy in it or much of the romance. The book left me feeling skeazy. I don’t recommend this book unless you’re into stories about broken people and their imperfect relationships.

Book Review: Twisted Palace

review-cover-twisted palaceTitle: Twisted Palace [The Royals 3]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

From mortal enemies to unexpected allies, two teenagers try to protect everything that matters most.
Ella Harper has met every challenge that life has thrown her way. She’s tough, resilient, and willing to do whatever it takes to defend the people she loves, but the challenge of a long-lost father and a boyfriend whose life is on the line might be too much for even Ella to overcome.

Reed Royal has a quick temper and even faster fists. But his tendency to meet every obstacle with violence has finally caught up with him. If he wants to save himself and the girl he loves, he’ll need to rise above his tortured past and tarnished reputation.

No one believes Ella can survive the Royals. Everyone is sure Reed will destroy them all.

They may be right.

With everything and everyone conspiring to keep them apart, Ella and Reed must find a way to beat the law, save their families, and unravel all the secrets in their Twisted Palace.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thought I had mixed feelings about the first two books in this series—and then I read the third book. At this point, I’m not sure why I spent money on these books. The drama in this book was so ridiculously overblown to the point of absurdity. The series took a sharp left turn by re-introducing Ella’s father when he was firmly dead in the first two books of the series. He wasn’t a likable character, but instead, overbearing, aggressive, and cruel.

The one redeeming point of this book was that there was an actual plotline, and the murder mystery aspect of it was both well-plotted and interesting. The technical aspects of the story, once again, were well-done. That being said, I’m not sure they made up for the characters and their motivations. This whole series has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m exhausted by the cruelty and narcissism of the characters and the banality of the social drama in their lives. This book, in particular, felt like a left-over storyline, introduced in an attempt to contrive more drama in the quickly fizzling plotline of the first two books.

I sincerely have to caution you if you choose to pick up this series: this isn’t for teen readers. This series is full of sex, drugs, sexual assault/attempted rape, murder, and cruelty by 98% of the characters. It isn’t a fuzzy romance despite the sparkly covers, and despite the luke-warm ratings I’ve given the series, I can’t honestly say that I’d recommend it to most readers.