Free Fiction Friday #86

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #86! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Blessedly Bound

review-cover-blessedly boundTitle: Blessedly Bound [An Elemental Witch Trials Novel 1]

Author: Lucretia Stanhope

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Gwen Hensley finds herself pulled into something life altering when she inherits a sprawling manor from a grandmother she never knew. As a witch, she uses her gift of sight to experience her grandmother die in a brutal execution by flames. The vision is only the catalyst that tosses her into a mystery involving a killer with psychopathic tendencies and a vitriol for witches.

Seeking aid in unraveling the mystery, she discovers her familiar, Lewis, is wrapped up in her family curse that involves voodoo and a sacrifice of the first-born witch in each generation. The neighbor, Sebastian, her grandmother’s best friend and a familiar with his own haunted past, tugs her in intimate and magical ways, which both puts her in danger and a position to be more powerful than she ever dreamed possible.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like this book, unfortunately, the story started painfully slow. The author spent a lot of time “telling” the reader what was happening rather than showing it. The characters spent a lot of time simply doing inane tasks and participating in small talk. By the time the book hit 10%, I was bored.

I pushed on, and at 16% in I gave up. The narrative was slow, wordy, and methodical in its descriptions. The characters spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation and simple tasks and yet the story didn’t seem to progress. Although the premise was interesting and the characters unique, I didn’t feel drawn in by the narrative.

Overall, I would say that it could be an interesting book for the right reader, and those out there with a higher tolerance for slow starts might end up really enjoying it, but it just didn’t hold my attention. I prefer more tension and quicker paced fiction.

Book Review: Something

review-cover-SomethingTitle: Something [Wisteria 1]

Author: Shelby Lamb

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror, New Adult

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

They say be careful what you read. Something is wrong. Something is very wrong. It can happen to anyone. This is just four teenagers’ story.

Aubrey Golding hates her face, her body, and is devastated after Nathan Silva leaves her. Alone, suicidal, and desperate for love, she discovers a book called Something and unknowingly links others to a dark and terrifying curse that is beginning to consume her.

Nathan is glad to be moving on with someone new and can hardly believe what is happening now. Wild child and amateur porn star, Bella Broadhurst, loves bullying that “emo whore” Aubrey with the other girls, but mostly she loves partying, hookups, and plain ol’ drama when terror arises. And Kendra Coke is just a new teen mother working on a delicate relationship when things start becoming utterly bizarre.

Chilling sleep disturbances and figures hiding in the corners of their rooms are just warnings of what is to come. Be careful what you read, they say. Tread carefully…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

DNF. I wanted to like this book—the premise certainly sounded interesting, but unfortunately, the execution fell drastically short. I have to be honest: I didn’t like this book. At all.

The story started with a huge section describing the character down to her moles. She was a predictable emo-hipster complete with pastel pink hair and piercings, constantly listening to dated Evanescence songs while she whined about her absent boyfriend, friends, and well… just about everything. Frankly, I didn’t like her. She was depressing to listen to, and the way she was set up made it painfully obvious that she was just like every other dramatically written emo teen; painfully special in her sad, cliché way.

The narrative voice was filled with poetic description about things that weren’t relevant to the story, and after just 4% of the book—I was bored.

I know there are people out there that love this book–I have seen the 4 and 5-star reviews–and I applaud them for their dedication in reading through this entire book. Really, I do. It just wasn’t for me, and honestly, I can’t recommend it. I don’t think it was well written. I am incredibly disappointed.

Book Review: The Belgrave Legacy

review-cover-The Belgrave LegacyTitle: The Belgrave Legacy

Author: Zara Hoffman

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Fawn doesn’t believe in magic. But it is very real, and has made her a vulnerable target.
Caleb is sick of Hell. When the Devil offers him a way out, he immediately says yes.
Can this young witch trust the dark angel assigned to romance and seduce her? Or will his betrayal tear them apart forever?

The Belgrave Legacy is an upper-young adult paranormal romance. Filled with magic, witches, angels, and demons, this story will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Buy the book now, and discover a world hiding in our own.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I could not finish this book. I wanted to. In fact, I made it further into this book than I normally do when I DNF. Chapter 19. 67% into the story. Let me explain what happened.

This book started off slow. There were tedious bits of over explanation of things the main character probably should have already known before the start of the story. The author had a habit of introducing new things into the story by simply dropping them in rather than leading up to the reveals or intertwining bits of information slowly throughout the plot. This lead to several jarring moments where I had to sit back and readjust my world view of the book before continuing on.

The writing itself was for the most part, technically correct. There were a few missing words and weirdly structured sentences, but nothing I couldn’t have pushed past. It was simply the way that information was imparted to the reader and the dramatic way the characters acted within the narrative that made it painful to follow along at times. It lacked a sense of depth to the world building and storytelling.

As the story progressed, I worked my way past these speed bumps. I found that I quite liked the characters and the romance between the main couple (even though their romance sped along exceedingly fast). The story seemed to be leading up to a big moment, as stories do, and that moment came – and things were resolved. They beat the bad guy in a manner of speaking. The romance hit a rough patch – but was working towards being resolved… everything was shaping up for the end of the book–and I thought, “that wasn’t so bad.”… and then I looked at my progress in the book, and I was only halfway through.

It felt strange to hit a section of the book that seemed to be “the end”. It sure felt like The End… but then it didn’t happen. The story kept going, skipping large amounts of time. Events were happening with no lead-up, again just being dropped into the story. There was a training montage… and It got to where I was 67% in the book and sat back and wondered… when is this going to end? I was bored, and not a lot was happening. It felt like the book had completed and then there was this really long, really tedious epilog to go through.. that just happened to take up half the story. So, I put it down.

I didn’t hate the book. I don’t even think it was a bad book. The cover is gorgeous. The title was fitting and mysterious. The characters were likable… the plot was really interesting… but the execution fell flat–and that’s all there is to it. There are going to be a lot of people out there that enjoy this book more than I did… and that’s great. I just didn’t have the patience to sit through another 33% of the book when it already felt like the book had ended, and what I’d already read was only so-so on the execution.

Book Review: Protected by the Mountain Wolf

review-cover-protected by the mountain wolf

Title: Protected by the Mountain Wolf [Mountain Wolf Protectors 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Amara’s life changed the moment she was attacked by a group of wolves. She was only 15 at the time, who could blame her for ignoring her grandfather’s warnings? She quickly began to believe all those stories he told her about the wolves who protected their town, Strathford. The wolves who could turn into humans. Shifters, as she learned they were called.

Ten years had passed since then, and Nova still couldn’t forgive himself for letting the Valley Clan slip into their territory unnoticed. If only he had been there in time. Since that day, he made a vow to himself to protect her, no matter what happens. Though he didn’t personally know Amara, he felt a connection to her after watching over her all these years. With his curiosity growing each day, he finally decided to visit her at work. He’d talk to her for an hour, settle his curiosity and then never speak to her again. Or so he thought…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Protected by the Mountain Wolf is the first book I’ve read by Emilia Hartley and I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The book was well edited and easy to read. I didn’t run into any glaring mistakes or structural issues. The narrative moved along quickly. I will admit though, that the quick pace of the book was also one of the drawbacks for me. Personally, I like to sink into my fiction and live there for awhile, and I felt like I couldn’t necessarily do that with this book. Also, perhaps because of the pace, the sex scenes seemed to lack some of the sexual tension I was expecting.

That being said,  I adored the characters, the romance, and the danger of the plot. It was a good story, and if wishing a book were a little longer is its only flaw—that’s a pretty good flaw to have. If anything, I wish there had been more to the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced, easy paranormal romance to read through over the weekend or an afternoon, this would probably be a solid choice for you. I look forward to reading more by this author in the very near future.

Book Review: Alpha Kaden

cover-review-Alpha KadenTitle: Alpha Kaden [Alpha 2]

Author: Midika Crane

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves

Rating: 3 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Alpha Kaden by Midika Crane. From the synopsis, I assumed this was going to be a very dark romance tinged with bits of insanity–which is something I don’t often read, but I do find fascinating… but that isn’t really what I found. In fact, let’s be clear: the synopsis is incredibly misleading.

There were definite elements of darkness and insanity to the story (and a whole lot of romance) but not in the way I expected–and I’m not sure how I feel about that. At first, the romance between Kaden and Mara was everything it promised. There was this element of darkness and insanity that made the situation between the two lovers sultry and taboo…but then part way through the book there is a twist (and not a bad one at that!) that completely changes how we readers see Alpha Kaden.

Without giving too much away, he went from being this bad-ass, devilishly charismatic man… to being, well… kind of a wimp. On the one hand, I understand why the author changed his personality mid-way through, but on the other hand, I don’t think it was the best way to handle the situation. Kaden is an Alpha… just because the twist happened, doesn’t mean he stops being an Alpha. Frankly, I liked him before the twist a lot better than after. Mara didn’t agree with me apparently. She went from hating this man beyond words to falling madly in love with him n the course of a page—which was annoying, to say the least.

That being said, the chemistry between the characters was steamy, and everything you want from a romance once you get past the initial shock and confusion. The world building was interesting, the characters, though maybe a bit shallow, were compelling enough to carry the story. The writing itself was easy to read and flowed well. I just wish the Alpha hadn’t become such a Beta. It felt rushed and sloppy the way it was handled.

If you like paranormal romances with suspense and werewolves, you’ll probably enjoy Alpha Kaden. Despite its flaws, it was entertaining and definitely worth reading, but this isn’t going to be one of those books that you re-read over and over.

Book Review: Vanish

review-cover-vanishTitle: Vanish

Author: Becca J. Campbell

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Eva has two secrets. The second is that she periodically vanishes into thin air.

Usually, Eva’s spontaneous disappearances last only a few minutes, but on the day of her high school graduation, she vanished for nearly ten years. For a decade she was invisible and intangible—unable to be felt or seen or heard. She can’t imagine a worse torture than standing on the outside looking in.

Now she’s back, but it’s not enough to be tangible once again. Eva needs to find a way to stop vanishing permanently. Which is why she’s facing her ten-year class reunion—and her ex-boyfriend. The clue to stopping her disappearances must be tied to him, intertwined with their past. Unfortunately, approaching him is awkward-level five billion, considering he broke up with her ten years ago.

When Eva starts getting threatening texts from an unknown source, she realizes the reunion has just gotten even more complicated. Especially when she discovers that source has found out about her second, worse secret.

In order to find the key to stop her vanishing, Eva must battle grudge-wielding friends, relentless old crushes, and a classmate with a vendetta against her. And, in the meantime, hope she doesn’t vanish again. Because somebody wants her gone for another ten years.

Vanish is a sweet romance with a fantastical twist. It’s the perfect blend of Magical Realism and Romance. If you enjoy charmingly quirky characters, a love story that will tug on your heartstrings, and an emotionally rich storyline, download this book today.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have sort of an odd relationship with Vanish by Becca J. Campbell, in that I read it twice, and not because I loved the book so much that I wanted to read it again, but because I read two different version of the ARC, several months apart. Because of this, I have a somewhat screwed view of the story. I remember parts of the book that are no longer in the final copy—some of those bits I liked a lot, others no so much, but I’m going to try to stick mostly to the current version (as I assume, fellow reader, that this is the version you will be reading as well).

Here’s the thing: I went into this book having no knowledge about what it was about. I was given a two line teaser and signed an agreement that I’d read the book within a narrow 3-week period. I didn’t know the genre, the premise of the story… nothing. What I found, was a rather contemporary urban fantasy with some paranormal and romance thrown in. There’s quite a bit that happens in the story before the reader is introduced to the story—and I’m not a huge fan of stories that do that. Because the main character’s friendships, relationships, and initial disappearance (and subsequent 10-year absence) happened before the story started, I felt like I’d missed a huge part of the action and tension in the story. What I was left with, was a short, sweet story that spans about three days in its entirety.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well edited. The narrative flowed well and pulled me into the story from the very beginning. There were no obvious typos or grammatical errors, and the actions and dialogue of most of the characters rang true. I say most, because the antagonist of the book, a former classmate, and ex-girlfriend of the male lead, was a rather lackluster character. For no real obvious reason, she was obsessed with Tait in a very stalker-ish way, even though they hadn’t seen each other in a decade. Her actions in this and other parts of the story came across as terribly contrived and unrealistic. Her motivations and the way she handled the paranormal aspect of the book just made no sense—and worse yet, fell apart easily once the characters began to stand up for themselves. She was like the evil popular girl in any teen TV show, but this wasn’t a teen book. This is an adult romance… which is probably why it sat so poorly with me.

That wasn’t the only issue, though arguably the biggest. There were mentions throughout the book of other special people like Eva, who also had super powers, but most of them were mentioned in passing and never shown. The relationship between Eva and her former boyfriend was forced upon the reader as something it wasn’t, and then immediately switched out for another romance with Tait, that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. There was no tension (sexual or otherwise) throughout the book, and the little bit of a teaser mystery that was tossed into the description turned out to be not that big of a deal.

Originally, I gave this book four stars after reading the initial copy. There were issues for me with the way the book was touted as a standalone, but obviously tied into another series (this seemed to be edited out in the second copy), but overall, I found it a sweet, enjoyable story. Maybe it’s the fact that I read it twice, maybe it was the edits that changed the story to the second version… I’m not sure, but I ended up not liking the story as much the second time around. It was entertaining, and it was sweet, but I felt that it was missing depth and a sense of tension.

I think this book is best geared towards readers who enjoy sweet, contemporary romance with a paranormal theme, and maybe the tiniest bit of drama.  It isn’t a story that’s going to draw you in and make you think, but it makes a nice afternoon read if you’re just looking for something fun and romantic to sink into for a few short hours.