Book Review: Blind Wolf Box Set [1-4]

 

review-cover-blindwolf

Title: Blind Wolf Box Set (Books 1-4)

Author: Aubrey Rose

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary, Box Set (Anthology)

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Julia has never been on a date in her life. She’s a curvy girl with no money, no education, and no way out of the town she works in as a library assistant… until Damien shows up. He’s just like the prince charming Julia always imagined would sweep her off of her feet. There are just a few things standing in the way of true happiness: he’s blind, he’s dating someone, and he’s WAY out of her league.

Oh, and he’s a werewolf.

Damien lost his eyes two years ago in a wolf battle. Ever since then, the straggler pack of disabled wolves he leads has been searching for a place to call home. One house seems like the perfect choice, but Damien realizes too late that the person who lives there is the girl he met at the library. The human girl. Damien is torn between loyalty to his pack and raw lusting desire for the girl who haunts his dreams day and night.

She’s a human. How could she be his true mate?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I received a copy of this 4-book set on NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It took me awhile to decide how I wanted to go about this review. My first inclination, as with all my reviews, was to split the box-set up into individual books and do separate reviews, as well as an all-encompassing review for the set itself. Unfortunately, after having read the series, I changed my mind. This set of books cannot be separated. They do not stand up on their own. It’s almost as if the author wrote all four books (and I use that term lightly because they’re closer to novellas) in one go as a single book, and then split it into four parts. Personally, I would categorize these books as Episodes of a greater whole. Literally from one book to the next the split between the stories occur sometimes in the middle of conversations that continue on as if there was never a break. If you happened to miss the previous book, any one of these books would be completely incomprehensible.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty: Technically speaking, the writing in this series of books is well done. It’s clear, concise for the most part, and grammatically correct. There were no missing words, misspelled words, or incorrectly used phrases. The writing is strong and engaging, and that’s most of the reason why this set scored as high as it did. Regardless of what happened in the narrative, I was engaged by the writing, and that’s half the score of any book for me.

Plot-wise, I’ll admit, the books fell short. There were little incidences of conflict throughout the series—such as the introduction of  Trax’s pack, Mara’s possible betrayal, and the obscure leader that took over after Trax—but these bits of tension were just that, bits. There didn’t seem to be an overall arching plot to the series, or the individual books, and the points of tension seemed to be randomly thrown in to drive the stories without having any great outcome on the stories themselves. The conflicts were resolved quickly, and with little effort. There were no quests or motivations that seemed to drive the characters to develop any further than how we originally found them at the beginning of the first book (with the exception of Julia searching out her heritage). There were no great understandings reached about their morality or about other characters.

Now, if you look at Romance being the plot itself, then for the first book, I have no problem. It was your basic romance… boy meets girl, they struggle, and eventually sink into a favorable relationship. I’m okay with that, but for the next three book in the series, the romance seemed to be an ever-present point, but not strong enough to actually be considered a plot. Once the main characters sunk into their relationship, nothing really changed with the relationship. They bickered sometimes, but there was no real threat. So while I’d consider the romance theme an extension of the original book, I don’t think the books had a strong plot behind them once you removed that element.

As for the characters themselves, I had a few issues with them. When the main female lead, Julia, is first introduced, she is a weak, self-doubting character. She’s never had a real relationship, and she’s uncomfortable with her body, so going into a relationship with Damien seems like a pipe-dream to her. I liked this about her original character. However, as the books wore on, this didn’t seem to change much. Julia never seemed to get comfortable with her body image. She was continually doubting the validity of her relationship with Damien. As a character (and this is true of all the characters, not just Julia, but I’m making a point of her) she didn’t grow or gain any depth throughout the series. Julia in book 1 was remarkably like Julia in book 4 with the exception of finally learning her heritage. For all intents and purposes, she didn’t grow  as a character—and that’s something I think is necessary in any novel. As events and conversations happen to a character, they should change. These characters didn’t.

Damien in particular was a sore point for me as well. Like Julia, he didn’t change much throughout the series. Unfortunately, the person he was didn’t present a real clear picture. At times Damien was forceful and angry (even towards Julia), but for the most part, he was a rather weak character. He didn’t lead his pack of werewolves with any sense of real leadership. There was this vague notion that his pack members followed him out of loyalty, but it wasn’t loyalty earned through great deeds so much as circumstance. One wolf had a crush on him. One he’d happened upon as she was dying, another was acquired from another pack. None of them followed him because he seemed to have any real leadership quality, and throughout the books he continually steps away from pursuing the qualities that would make him a strong leader. He runs instead of fights. He doesn’t reprimand pack members when they need to be reprimanded. It’s no surprise to me that he had as much trouble leading them as he did. His control over his pack seemed almost lackadaisical.

Even when Damien got into fights with Julia, he didn’t stand up for himself. Most of the time he whined about the outcome or worried about his own inaction instead. I honestly had a hard time accepting him as an alpha male character because his character was presented for the most part, as being weak. Combine his overall presented character with the odd moments of forcefulness, and it seemed as if the author wasn’t really sure what kind of character she was trying to represent. I didn’t get a strong sense of his personality outside the fact that he reacted to each situation in the stories in a way that would bring the most drama—and this is true of almost any character within the book.

The other characters, mostly members of Damien’s pack, seemed rather 1-dimensional. The books never got far into their personalities, or even spent much time on them at all until Damien had a reason to order one of them to do something. Other than Jordan, Damien’s right hand wolf, I honestly came away from the series not knowing all that much about any of the characters. There was very little backstory given, and hardly any conversations that lead to a deeper understanding of the characters at all.

As for the sex…it was steamy. It was also a bit overblown. Julia was constantly shouting “Oh!” or “Ah!”, or talking about how big parts of Damien’s anatomy were, and there came a point where I just sat back and shook my head. Sex happened all the time in this series. Literally, and regardless of the actual storyline. It felt as if sex were being thrown into the book at regular intervals to fill space. It happened before arguments, after arguments, during arguments… even when certain individuals were injured and sex would have been ridiculously uncomfortable or inappropriate during the situation. These moments didn’t seem to serve to bring the characters together, and so it almost felt as if they were fan service in a way. With the exception of when sex actually served to cause pregnancy or cement their relationship in the first place, most of it could have been completely removed from the series with no impact on the story whatsoever.

I think out of the four books, the first was probably my favorite, and the fourth was probably the most irrelevant. Honestly, in the first several chapters of the fourth book, nothing happened. The characters sat around and discussed poetry, motherhood, and how much they didn’t enjoy college, but nothing actually happened. If I hadn’t already invested four hours into the series at that point, I’d probably have closed the book. In my opinion (and take that as you will) the main interest of the plot fell between book 1 and book 2. After that, it felt as if the series were dragging. Now, that’s not to say that all the points in the last two books weren’t good. I really enjoyed the mystery of the werewitch, the strengthening of the bond between Julia and Damien, and the pureblood werewolf subplot. I think those were excellent story points, and I really wish the author had spent more time developing them. Unfortunately, these incidences were barely explained. After four books, I still can’t explain to you who the werewitch was, why she was different than the other werewolves, or what her interest in Julia was.

I think this series had a lot of potential to be something bigger than it was, but for whatever reason, the way the overall story was split up and manipulated really hurt the series as a whole. I wish this had been one book, and that the tension points and plot points that were brought up had been delved into further. As it stands, it was a bit of a lack-luster read. Would I read it again? No, I probably wouldn’t. Would I recommend it? Honestly, probably not. It’s not that the series was horrible, but I walked away from it without any passionate feelings on it at all. It wasn’t bad enough for me to hate it, but it wasn’t good enough for me to want to continue either—and that’s why I gave this three stars (and that was rounding up). It fell right into the lower middle of the rating system for me with an “it was okay.” I think there are certainly people out there that will enjoy this series much more than I did, and I would like to take a moment to commend the author for having chosen to represent her characters the way she did. It’s not often you find a series where the main cast are as intrinsically flawed as these were. There was an overweight virgin, a blind werewolf, a gay werewolf, and some formerly-abused werewolves. I’m glad to see that not all, or even most, of the characters were perfect. It was a nice change.

Book Review: City of Fallen Angels [Mortal Instruments 4]

 

cover-cityoffallenangels

Title: City of Fallen Angels [Mortal Instruments 4]

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Urban, Paranormal, Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult, Romance, Action & Adventure

Rating: 3 Stars

buy4._V192207739_

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Description/Synopsis:

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Meh. That’s how I feel about this book. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t god-awful. Technically speaking, the writing was clean and grammatically correct. However, the plot this time around left something to be desired. Unlike the previous book (and this may be part of the problem), City of Fallen Angels wasn’t crammed full of tension and action. The first half of the book was a little more like the calm before a storm. Everyone seemed happy. Clary and Jace were downright silly around each other. It was a nice change of pace, but I’ll admit that I did miss the tension.

The book stalled out a bit in the middle half of the book. A lot of new elements were introduced with new characters, new backstory, and an exceedingly weak drawn-out plot. It almost felt as if every character introduced had some sort of secret they were hiding, and it made it very difficult to pin down anyone’s intensions. I get the need to be secretive—really I do—but when there’s so many secrets in such a slow part of the book… I ended up just getting frustrated.

A lot of time was spent around some of the not-so-important characters, including Simon (whom I hate), his family, his girlfriend problems… Maia, Jordan, and their relationship problems and backstory… and Jocelyn and Luke’s upcoming wedding. Other lesser characters like Alec, Magnus, Raphael, the Seelie Queen, and the newly introduced Camille, took up most of the narrative—leaving Clary and Jace (the main interest in this series!) by the wayside.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, every time the story switched to Clary and Jace they were either whining over each other, ignoring each other all together, or getting their make-out sessions interrupted. Talk about fan-girl frustration!

After the first 2/3rds of the book things became a little more tense—dark even, and it was a good change from the previous boring interludes of not-knowing-what-the-heck-was-going-on, but the whole thing left me with an increasing sense of unease. Everything was too perfect… then mysterious, then downright creepy.

In the end I found I just couldn’t enjoy the story as much as I did with the previous books. Not a lot seemed to happen with most of the time in the book being spent dealing with relationship issues. It didn’t seem to go anywhere, and even in the end, the drama was pointless. The one shining redeemer was the tragic ending (that I won’t spoil) which hopefully will lead into the next book and a much more interesting plotline.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Not if you haven’t read the previous books. It doesn’t stand on it’s own, and it certainly wasn’t the best of the series. If you’ve read the previous three, then I’d recommending at least sifting through this one in the hopes you’ll be caught up for the next in the series. This book was so-so. Readable, but lukewarm.

Free Fiction Friday #9

Hello and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #9! Every Friday I post 10 e-books that are 100% free (and 4+ stars) to download from Amazon (usually revolving around a single theme) for you to enjoy over your weekend. This week, we’ll be looking at Historical Romance! Enjoy, and I hope you have a great weekend!

cover-TheBeautyBridecover-CleverJohncover-ToCaptureAHighlander'sHeartcover-SeaofChristmasMiraclescover-UndeniableRoguecover-11thhourrosecover-Wrongedcover-TheBloodUponTheRosecover-T'on Macover-CostumesandFiligree

Free Fiction Friday #8

Hello blogland! It’s that time again: FREE FICTION FRIDAY! So before you go wandering away from your computer this weekend, grab some of these 100% free e-books from Amazon. They’re all rated 4+ Stars, and are sure to entertain. This week we delve into Fantasy. Enjoy, and I’ll see you next Friday with a new set of ten books.

cover-Halfwaycover-APlaceToGocover-AHiddenFire????????????????????????????????????????cover-ThreadsThatBindcover-Sentinelcover-TheRushcover-TheSynthesiscover-TerreneTheHiddenValleycover-OldNathan

Free Fiction Friday #4

Hey guys! It’s that time again – Free Fiction Friday! So, while you enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend, here are some books to keep you company. This time around we’re doing Mysteries, Thrillers, and Suspense novels, all 4+ star ratings, completely 100% FREE on Amazon at the moment–so go snatch them up while you can.

cover-headtoheadHead To Head [Claire Morgan 1] – After moving from Los Angeles to rural Missouri, homicide detective Claire Morgan has at last adjusted to the peaceful rhythms of country life. Until a grisly celebrity murder at an ultra-exclusive health resort shatters a quiet summer morning. One of Dr. Nicholas Black’s high-profile clients, a beautiful young soap opera star, has been found dead. Back in L.A., Claire investigated the rich, famous, and the deadly, but she never expected the problems of the privileged to follow her to this sleepy small town, nor did she ever imagine crossing the line with her prime suspect. Immersed in the case, Claire finds herself drawn to the charismatic doctor, spending more and more time in his company, and in his bed. Now, to catch a killer, Claire will have to enter the darkest recesses of the human mind. But is Black leading her there to help her…or luring her ever deeper into a madman’s grip? A second storyline is about Brat, a victim of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, who at the age of fourteen began a killing spree. How this relates to the main story is yet another mysterious strand in this riveting thriller.

Washington DCNoble Beginnings [Noble Novel 1] – In March of 2002, while the eyes of the world focused on Afghanistan, Jack Noble finds himself on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. A Marine in name only, Jack is on-loan to the CIA. Normally an integral part of the team, he finds that he is nothing more than a security detail in Iraq.

Jack and his partner Bear have a run-in with four CIA special agents over the treatment of an Iraqi family. Within hours Jack and Bear are detained.

All Jack wanted was to finish his enlistment and move on with his life. All he did was intervene and save a family from unwarranted violence at the hands of four CIA agents. But he soon discovers that he did far more than intervene. He has placed himself dead square in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of the U.S. government.

cover-knockoutKnockout! – Interpol cop, Anna Leyton, spirals down into a hopeless vortex of sexual and emotional passion as she fights to keep her professional cool. Who is deceiving whom in this fast moving ride across continents? What motivates her art loving prize-bull of a lover Freddie La Salle? The power of love and trust stands against greed and crime as conflicting forces grapple for that knockout punch.

cover-thebladeThe Blade [Mafia Trilogy 2] – The safe house where Darwin and Rosina live is attacked. Five FBI agents are dead. Darwin Kostas has nowhere to turn, no one he can trust.

Darwin’s phobias cause him great stress and now the media are calling him The Blade, even though he can’t stand the sight of knives.

The FBI are hunting him. The Gambino family, violent mobsters associated with Italy’s La Cosa Nostra, want to know who he works for before they execute him.

Darwin just wants to be left alone with his new wife so they can begin a domestic life, but that is not possible with so many people wanting him dead.

With evidence piling up against him, a crazed, half-blind FBI agent on his tail, and a relentless mobster planning Darwin’s violent end, the only thing he has left to lose is his life.

Meanwhile, the Russian Mafia are moving into new territory in Toronto. They want to know who this Darwin guy is and why he is still breathing. When they show up to take possession of his body, Darwin has one surprise left for the mobsters before he dies.

TMWdb002954Gabe’s Plan – Gabe Mapel is the young District Attorney of Pine Springs, Colorado–winter playground to the rich and famous. Gabe has long suffered from depression, but recently his mental health has worsened. He thinks a spirit from the past is telling him to make a name for himself and grab political power by prosecuting movie star Chad Tibbs for a crime he didn’t commit. With a mark as rich and powerful as Chad, however, Gabe will need an accomplice. Fortunately for Gabe, a cute barista at the coffee shop Chad frequents is in love with Gabe and would make the perfect accomplice. Unfortunately for the cute barista, if she wants to win Gabe’s affection, she’ll have to seduce Chad Tibbs and falsely accuse him of doing very bad things.

???????????????????????????????????????Goddess of the Moon – Psychic Diana Racine and her boyfriend, Lieutenant Ernie Lucier of the New Orleans Police Department, are drawn into a baby kidnapping case. Clues lead first to a hospital worker, then to Brother Osiris, the head of a homeless shelter, and finally to some of the richest men in the state. A combination of mysticism, mythology, and the black arts lures Diana and Ernie even deeper into a plot that puts both their lives in danger.

cover-furiesFuries – 36 AD – The city of Alexandria is a center of Roman commerce—and a sinful playground for the pleasure-seeking rich and powerful.

For wealthy merchant Decimus Tarquitius Aculeo, however, Alexandria has become a living hell. Ruined by a string of mysterious investment disasters, abandoned by friends and family, Aculeo is desperate to recover his wealth and status.

Aculeo’s search for the reasons behind his downfall draws him into a web of violence. A common slave is found murdered in the magnificent temple of the god Serapis. Days later, the brutalized body of a high-priced hetaira is discovered floating in a canal, after an evening entertaining the city’s elite. The grim truth soon becomes clear: A ruthless killer is moving among Alexandria’s aristocrats, commercial titans, and philosophers.
Ominous clues connect those murders to Aculeo’s own quest. Aided by an Egyptian mortuary attendant, a brilliant philosopher, an exotic hetaira, and his last remaining friends, Aculeo must unmask and stop a deadly murderer if he is ever to reclaim the life he has lost.

But first, he must survive…

cover-ihopeyoufindmeI Hope You Find  Me – Life for Riley ends when her young children die in her arms…victims of a global viral outbreak that claims the lives of everyone she’s ever known. Left to fend for herself with only a dog as her companion, she sets out on a journey to find others, leaving notes everywhere she goes…hoping that one day someone will come looking for her. When Riley meets the handsome yet mysterious Connor on the streets of Downtown San Diego, they form a bond unlike either has experienced before. When the things that go bump in the night turn out to be more than nightmares, the trio sets off for the mountains in search of an isolated resort where they can hunker down, away from the ominous shadows of the dead city streets. The peace and tranquility of the woods isn’t enough to keep the darkness away for long though and soon Riley and Connor are forced to accept that the World and the few people left alive in it will never be the same. The shadows of their past may haunt them forever…threatening to destroy what little dreams they have left of a future unless they fight to stay in the light and never lose their hope.

cover-itsnothingpersonalIt’s Nothing Personal – Anesthesiologist, Dr. Jenna Reiner, was blindsided on a January morning by an incident that would forever change her life. A scrub technician at her hospital was stealing narcotics from anesthesiologists, injecting those same narcotics into her veins, and returning the contaminated syringes, knowing they would be used on patients. The scrub tech was infected with hepatitis C, a deadly virus.

Unknowingly, anesthesiologists at St. Augustine Hospital were injecting their patients with hepatitis C laden syringes. When Dr. Jenna Reiner administered anesthesia, she was holding a murder weapon in her hands. Dr. Reiner was about to find out that not only was her hospital at risk, but her entire life was about to be turned upside down. The scrub tech’s addiction evolved into a public health scare, potentially affecting thousands. Unfortunately, on that fateful day, Dr. Reiner and her patient fell victim to an addict.

The ensuing medical malpractice suit filed by Allison Anders, a ruthless attorney, becomes a battle for survival for Jenna and her family. For Dr. Reiner, the lawsuit is personal. Jenna Reiner faces more demons than she thought imaginable as she fights against greed, brutality, accusations, and a corrupt legal system. Will Dr. Reiner prevail? Or will the system win?

Inspired by true events, IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL is a story of endurance and pain beyond imagination.

cover-badradioBad Radio [The Element Earth 1] – Sixty years ago Abe Griffin saved the world and gained eternal youth.

Or so he thought.

Now, a man that Abe thought long dead is killing the surviving members of Abe’s old squad in order to reclaim the relics that they have kept hidden for decades.

The relics form an ancient beacon that must never be used, in a ritual that must never be completed. But the end of the world requires more than just activating the beacon.

It requires Abe.

With help from the granddaughter of his oldest friend, Abe must learn the truth about his immortal body, while at the same time trying to stop a horrifying series of supernatural opponents from sweeping away everything that he cares about.