Book Review: Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

cover-review-light as a feather, stiff as a boardTitle: Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board [Weeping Willow High 1]

Author: Zoe Aarsen

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Horror, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

McKenna Brady thinks her junior year of high school is going to be the best ever when she’s welcomed into the elite group of popular girls at Weeping Willow High School led by blond, gorgeous Olivia Richmond. Prior to junior year, McKenna was known in her small town as the girl whose twin sister died in a tragic house fire, and she’s overjoyed at the prospect of redefining her identity. She has a date to the Homecoming dance with Olivia’s handsome older brother, and a good chance of being elected to student council. For the first time since McKenna’s parents divorced, things are looking up.

But everything changes the night of Olivia’s Sweet Sixteen sleepover birthday party. Violet, the shy, mysterious new girl in town, suggests that the girls play a scary game called Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, during which Violet makes up elaborate stories about the future ways in which beautiful Olivia, brassy Candace, and athletic Mischa will die. The game unsettles McKenna because she’s already escaped death once in her life, but she doesn’t want to ruin her friends’ fun. It’s only a game, she reminds herself.

But it doesn’t seem like a harmless game a week later when Olivia dies unexpectedly in a violent car crash, exactly as Violet predicted. And something begins haunting McKenna’s bedroom at night, leaving her clues that all seem to point to Violet. McKenna enlists the help of her cute next-door neighbor Trey in finding out exactly what kind of curse Violet has put on all of the popular girls in the junior class. As Violet rises to popularity and seemingly steps into the life Olivia left unfinished, McKenna and Trey know they only have a limited amount of time to bring an end to Violet’s game before more lives are lost.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board by Zoe Aarsen was a chilling tale of vengeance and greed reaching forth from the afterlife to wreak havoc on a a small town as an unwitting group of teen girls become pawns in a plot from beyond the grave.

The story was well written and boasted a cast of characters both unique and complex. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping tale would would recommend it to any reader looking for a solid supernatural thriller with strong characterization and a well-constructed plot.

Book Review: High Stakes Bride

cover-highstakesbrideTitle: High Stakes Bride [Men of Stone Mountain 2]

Author: Caroline Clemmons

Genre: Historical, Western, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: Mary Alice Price is on the run from dangerous men. She had known that when her stepfather died, she would have to hurriedly escape her stepbrothers. Hadn’t she heard them promise her to the meanest man in Texas as payment for high stakes gambling losses?
One misfortune after another devils her until she links up with Zach Stone. He looks sturdy as his last name and invites her to his ranch where his two aunts will chaperone them. She figures life finally dealt her a winning hand.

Zach Stone has the sweetest ranch in all of Texas, at least he thinks he does. All he needs is a wife to build his family of boys and girls to carry on his ranch and name. He’s been jilted and vows he will never even speak to a woman again unless she’s a relative.
Then he comes across Alice Price and comes up with a crazy plan. He’s figured everything out, and is sure nothing can go wrong with his plan.
But life holds many surprises for Alice and Zach…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

First off, let’s start with the cover: It’s not that the cover was bad–considering the multitude of really awful covers I’ve seen on self-published book this past year, this one was actually decent (other than the huge amount of text)… that is until I got to the back cover. Someone had the ingenious idea to copy and paste completely unrelated photos of a model and a little boy dressed up in a cowboy costume, and his little dog. I know that as a writer, we all need our little “headshots” of models to use as reference for our characters. I love the practice, but it’d be nice if those random photos weren’t used in lieu of an actual planned cover. It came across as cheap and home-made. I would have preferred a blank back cover with only a synopsis to what amounted to clipart.

As for the story…it was a mixed bag–and don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad book. Like the previous of the series that I read, the writing was clear, fast-flowing, and engaging. Unfortunately, it was also convenient. Things just seemed too easy for the characters, and it lacked a lot of tension that I loved about the first book in the series. Here’s this man who need a bride, and poof! There’s one available (though the author did try to make it seem as if the main male lead wasn’t ever going to consider her). He wants a family? Poof! There was a orphaned boy who needs a home and just happened to be living on his property. Do you see where I’m going with this? The characters didn’t seem to have to work hard to get to any of the main points of the story. Thing just fell into place around them, and while that was cute and endearing at times, it lacked the active punch and draw of having struggled to get those things. Also, the use of the term “forever home” really irritated me. It’s a very modern, fluffy way of saying “permanent home” that I’m 100% sure wasn’t used in historical times. To hear the characters use it… well, it stuck out as sloppy. If you’re going to write a historical story, I honestly believe the lingo of the day and age (however non-politically correct we find it now) should be used. It adds a level of depth to the storytelling that is sorely needed in this type of book – and was absent in this one.

The romance, at least, was much better in this book, I felt, than the previous book. There was a definite attraction to the main characters, and it was fun watching them struggle to fit together despite their circumstances. In the end, was it my favorite western historical romance? Not by a long shot, but it was a good one, and I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a light afternoon read with loveable characters.

Book Review: Superb and Sexy

ImageTitle: Superb and Sexy [Sky High Series 3]

Author: Jill Shalvis

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: Despite his brooding bad-boy attitude, Brody knows life has treated him pretty well. His luxury charter airline, Sky High, has given him financial security and the means to take to the skies whenever things on the ground get complicated. And lately, things have become very complicated, thanks to the insanely passionate, or perhaps just insane, kiss he shared with Sky High’s gorgeous, wisecracking concierge, Maddie. He’s tried to keep his distance, but now Maddie desperately needs help, and it’s triggering protective alpha-male urges Brody didn’t even know he had…

For months, Maddie hid her crush on sexy, exasperating Brody behind a cool, kick-ass exterior…and then blew that to smithereens by jumping him in the lobby. Yeah, real smooth. She’s tried to break her ties with Sky High, but Brody won’t let her walk away—especially now that he knows that Maddie and her twin sister Leena are in big-time trouble. To save Leena, Maddie and Brody must pose as husband and wife, and Maddie is amazed that the man she thought was oblivious to her existence knows her very well indeed. But that’s nothing compared to the way she’s about to get to know him—intimately, in depth, and over and over again…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

So let’s start with the cover and title: They don’t really have much to do with the actual book. It’s marketing for the most part, so try not to take it too heavily in your book buying decisions. Once I’d actually gotten into the book, I was a little disappointed to realize that the cover did not reflect Maddie’s appearance/personality. Sure, at one point she does have short, auburn hair… but she’s one of those characters who changes her hair color almost daily. We’re talking, blues, purples, weird colors. It would have been cool to see some of that spunk in the models.

That aside, this was a very good book. The narrative and dialogue were extremely well written and the story flowed easily from page to page. I never felt like I was being rushed or jolted out of the story, and the story kept me turning the page.

The characters, particularly Maddie, were spunky, unique, and entertaining. I really liked Maddie and Brody. They were a cute couple, and you could definitely feel the attraction between the characters. The sex scenes were sizzling. Really, there isn’t much I can say that isn’t positive about them, except that perhaps Maddie’s personality seemed a bit off to me.

From the very beginning of the book we’re told that she’s kind of the duct-tape that holds Sky High Airlines together. She’s tough, quirky, and confident – and definitely unique in her appearance. Unfortunately, I don’t think I saw as much of that as I’d like to. There was very little interaction with the Airline or the other members of the crew at all. From nearly the beginning she’s been toned down into a normal-looking girl and spending all her time panicking about things from her past and present concerning her family (that apparently no one knew she had). What I saw, was a fairly normal-in-appearance girl who was stubborn, but afraid. Very afraid. Of her relationship with Brody, as well as her past experiences with her family. I didn’t see the confident quirky girl I kept being told about.

Now as a little aside, I also had some trouble being convinced she was a twin. I can’t blame the author much for this – because unless you are a twin, you wouldn’t know these things. I happen to be an identical twin, so I know the shoes that Maddie is trying to fill. I honestly don’t think an identical twin (who obviously still very dearly cared for her sister) would have left her in that situation with her uncle.. even to protect herself. Writers don’t seem to get that the bond between twins is extremely strong – I know people always describe it as “being the other half of a person” but they aren’t far off. Twins are together every second of the day from the time they’re born to the time they’re an adult for the most part. They have all the same memories, have been through the same experiences and conversations… They’re almost the same person, just viewing the world through a slightly different viewpoint. It was odd to see Maddie leave her sister Leena behind. It was also really weird to see that no one she knew had any idea she had a twin. Take it from me, even if you leave your twin (like I did to move half-way across the country), you will still refer to yourself as “we” in conversation. It’s a byproduct of always being together all the time. It’s very hard to separate the “I” from experiences shared. Even to this day, 10 years after leaving my twin, when I refer to my childhood I say “we”. I had a hard time believing Maddie was really a twin… but like I said, maybe that’s because some of these points just aren’t known to anyone who isn’t already a twin.

Also, another sore point I had, was that it was never really explained why Maddie’s uncle Rick hated her so much. He seemed to want to kill her on sight, but other than having left when she was 16… there doesn’t seem to be a reason for him to hate her to that extent. Sadly, most of the tension in the book was based around the fact that he wanted to kill her.

Overall, it was a great book. It was a fun, steamy read. The things I found wrong with it were minor, and only detracted from the story a little bit. I’d definitely still recommend it to anyone looking for a slightly unconventional romance.

in The Mail #13

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I was completely floored today when I checked the mail. Sitting outside on my porch was a rather large box – too large for just one book, I thought. I knew I had some books coming in the mail soon that I’d won in various Goodreads Giveaways, but it still struck me as rather strange. Nevertheless, it was marked “Media Mail” and my name was scrawled across it in beautiful cursive, so I took it inside, and after several minutes of wrestling with the tape, managed to get it open.

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ImageThe box weighed a TON, and when I popped open the cardboard lid, inside I found not one, not two, not three, but FOUR signed books by the lovely Caroline Clemmons along with a very pretty post card. I’d won Blue Bonnet Bride in the goodreads giveaway, but had no idea just how generous Ms. Clemmons was planning to be.

Anyways, the books are:

I’m so excited to start reading these, they’ve all gotten great reviews on Goodreads. This may have made my week. :3