Book Review: Shadows of Ghosts

review-cover-shadows of ghostsTitle: Shadows of Ghosts

Author: L.A. McGinnis

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Dark Fantasy

Rating: 3 Stars (2.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she’s fighting to stay alive in the middle of a vampire war. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan realizes if she wants the love she deserves, she’ll have to fight the demons of her past.

For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn’t want becomes the one thing he has to have.

Two irreconcilable lives, five hundred years of history, and all they have to do to live happily ever after is defeat the evil that threatens to tear them apart

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I certainly have mixed feelings about Shadows of Ghosts by L.A. McGinnis. Although the writing was mostly easy to read with a clear narrative voice, there were quite a few typos that really should have been cleaned up before publication. The plotline was interesting, as well as the many characters—I really enjoyed Logan as the female lead… but this book suffered from one major problem.

Pacing.

This book moved incredibly quickly from plot point to plot point. Conversations, action, and basic periods of time were flipped through one after the other. Unfortunately, this gave the book a rushed feel, and it made it harder to follow along with what was happening, as well as to grow attached to the characters. The romance, the friendships, the drama… it didn’t feel believable because of how quickly everything was moving. It felt like one moment Logan was discovering the brooding male lead, and then the next she was in Scotland with his friends (who, as far as I can recall, she was never introduced to), and then they were back home. The drama and romance came off as cheesy and fake because there was no time to soak in the sexual tension or the conflict in the relationship.

I think this book could have been really spectacular as a paranormal romance read, but the pacing just absolutely killed it for me. Overall, it was an okay read. I was entertained, I liked the characters, and the plot was interesting and well-thought out… I just wish the author had slowed down to let me enjoy it.

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: The Gates of Dawn

review-copy-the gates of dawnTitle: The Gates of Dawn [The Never Dawn 3]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Banished to the surface, Noah and his team struggle to survive in the harsh climate and forced to make a difficult decision. In their quest to see the first dawn, they make a shocking discovery about their past that could help Noah bring Mother’s cruel regime to an end.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I’ve enjoyed The Never Dawn series by R.E. Palmer, or this latest addition to it. These books came across my desk from a relatively unknown author—and it was by sheer whim that I decided to pick them up for review. I am so glad that I did.

I adored this book. It was such a fantastic conclusion to one of the best YA Science Fiction Dystopian series I may have ever read. Though a bit darker than the two books that came before it, The Gates of Dawn by R.E. Palmer sucked me into the story right away and didn’t let up until the last page. I was saddened to put this book, and this series, down when the last sentence was read. I’ve grown to love and care for the many characters within its pages. I cheered when they triumphed, and gasped, disheartened when they were thwarted. There were many aspects of the story that surprised me and left me scrambling to read on to discover what would happen next. The ending, in particular, wasn’t one I saw coming—but at the same time, I’m not upset by it. Although it wasn’t the ending I expected or even wanted, it seemed fitting for Noah’s story. I read this book aloud with my daughter, and she fought tears the entire last chapter and epilogue of the story.

It broke our hearts, and I think we both agree that this series is one of the best series we’ve read between us. If you enjoy YA Science Fiction, or Dystopias, you need to pick up this book, and this series. It is so well crafted and well voiced—trust me when I say that you will not regret it.

Book Review: Legacy of Lies

review-cover-legacy of liesTitle: Legacy of Lies [Hell’s Valley 1]

Author: Jillian David

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Thriller, Paranormal

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Garrison Taggart doesn’t have time to deal with touchy-feely junk like “trust issues” or “feelings.” His dad’s health is waning and the family’s Wyoming ranch is being sabotaged. Too bad his supernatural ability to tell when someone is lying has been exactly zero help in ferreting out the betrayer so far. So, when sweet schoolteacher Sara Lopez raises concerns about his son being bullied, who can blame a guy for getting a little testy?

The last thing Sara needs is any more attention or gossip after her recent breakup with big-shot rancher Hank Brand. So her attraction to surly but sexy Garrison, Hank’s rival, is entirely unwanted. When she uncovers an insane plot to kidnap the Taggart boy and throws herself in harm’s way to protect him, Garrison must risk his deepest secret and his own life to save the people he cares for the most. But will his heroics cost him everything?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really enjoyed Legacy of Lies by Jillian David. It was a strange and fresh new concept of a contemporary rancher-romance juxtaposed with elements of paranormal and thriller, which isn’t something I’ve run across in the past.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were no obvious or jarring typos. The narrative was clean, flowed easily, and for the most part, the dialogue was believable and natural.

The main characters were flawed, interesting, and adorable in their strained romance—but I also think they were possibly the weakest point of the story. I liked them—I did, but there was this weird back and forth with the two main characters where they loved each other, but kept self-doubting their way out of the relationship. The way they kept backing out of the romance was irritating, frustrating, and honestly, didn’t make a lot of sense at times. It came across as a bit contrived.

That aside, I still greatly enjoyed the book. The plot was new and interesting, I liked the characters and their development. Had it not been for the constant self-doubt of the main characters, this easily would have gotten 5 stars. I was entertained, and I got sucked into the book. There’s not much more I can ask for. If you enjoy rancher-romances or enjoy contemporary paranormal or romantic thrillers, you’ll probably really enjoy this story. I’d suggest giving it a try.

Book Review: Depths of Lake

review-cover-depths of lakeTitle: Depths of Lake [The McCain Saga #3]

Author: Keary Taylor

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It was another day at the ranch, training horses and working fifteen hour days. And then the last person I ever expected showed up. Lake McCain: a Marine, tall, ripped—and the best friend of my dead fiancé. Cal died to save Lake, and now Lake claims that he carries a debt to me that he can never repay.

I wanted to brush him off. But then my mom, the manager of the ranch, went and hired him. We spend hours working together with the horses. Lake doesn’t say much. He’s layered and dark and he tries to seem shallow and simple. But he isn’t. There are things under his surface that matter. He works, quiet and strong, and never once lets me down.

Until he confesses that he may be falling in love with me. I can’t deny that there is something between us. But a relationship? I just can’t. I’ve used up all my chances at love. My past relationships have ended in death or disaster, and now I have to live with all of that.

I’m Riley James, and there are depths to Lake—depths to myself—that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Although this was an endearing, sweet romance, the style in which it was written made it a less than engaging read for me.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. It was grammatically correct, well punctuated, and with the exception of one glaring typo where a word was omitted, it was generally well edited overall. The problem for me lay in the flow of the narrative.

Riley’s voice was written in a very detached, often abruptly structured way that felt almost robotic at times. She lacked warmth and it made it hard to follow her point of view at times. I didn’t have a problem with her personality—on the contrary, I quite liked her—but still, it wasn’t always easy to follow her narrative, especially near the beginning and ending of the book.

Despite this flaw, I enjoyed the book for the most part. The characters, though not overly deep, were sweet and likeable. The setting was strong, and the romance seemed natural. I liked it. It wasn’t perfect—it lacked some of the engaging quality I’d expected, but it wasn’t a bad book. I’d recommend it as a light weekend read for anyone who might enjoy a contemporary romance between two broken protagonists.

Book Review: Witch Hunter

review-cover-witch hunterTitle: Witch Hunter [Witches of the Woods 1]

Author: Steffanie Holmes

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Europe – 1351. Centuries ago a curse was placed on Ada’s family; every seven days a woman from her line must sleep with a man – any man – or the entire coven will lose their powers forever. As a fledgling witch, it is Ada’s turn to continue the seven-day cycle, but with the plague wiping out more men every day, who will she find to take into her bed? BBW Ada goes to a sacred grove to perform a ritual to bring a man to her, and a man appears. But he is as dangerous as he is handsome …

Ulrich of Donau-Ries is a battle-scarred witch hunter, tired of the stranglehold the church has over his destiny. His heart hardened by violence and the woman who betrayed him, Ulrich is determined to never again fall in love. But that all changes when he finds Ada, naked and waiting for him. She is the first woman to loosen the chains around his black heart.

When Ada is accused of witchcraft, Ulrich seizes his chance to be close to her once more. In Ulrich’s dungeon, they find solace in each other, and innocent Ada learns to embrace her lover’s dark fantasies. But will Ulrich’s heart thaw in time to save Ada from being burned alive at the stake?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m actually a little surprised to say that I really enjoyed this book. I’m not huge on BDSM or dungeon play in my romance. I don’t particularly have a problem with it, but I don’t actively seek it out, and it’s always left me feeling a little uncomfortable when it pops up in my romance reading, so when I went into Witch Hunter by Steffanie Holmes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that aspect of the plot. Surprisingly, I was completely fine with it—though I know there will be some people out there that won’t. So before I get much further into this review and waste your time, let me say that there are quite a few scenes held within this book where the main female lead is strapped into or onto torture devices. She was in pain… BUT she was also consenting and enjoyed herself. If that isn’t your thing, then feel free to move on.

That being said, even though there was a fair bit of somewhat torturous BDSM involved, I never felt like Ulrich was being intentionally cruel or harmful to Ada, even when she was in genuine pain. I never questioned that she was happy to be put in the situation she was in and she enjoyed it. The situation was tricky, though. She was, after all, in a real dungeon dealing with a man who “tortured and burned witches at the stake” for a living, and I can understand how some more sensitive readers may find this book a little much to handle. To each his own, right?

Personally, I thought the story was fabulous. I loved Ulrich as the dark and brooding anti-hero and Ada as the sadly naïve newbie witch. The characters were colorful and distinct, and though I didn’t like all of them (I’m looking at you Bernadine), I felt they were necessary to the plot and well written.

Now, I was holding onto an ARC copy, so there were a few typos here and there (all of which I turned into the author/publisher), but none of them were distracting or particularly detrimental to the story. For the most part, the writing was clean, easy to follow, and well paced.

My only nitpick was one particular scene where Ada had been held in a dungeon for days on end before she was ravished by Ulrich, and I just kept thinking “omg… I bet she smells so bad right now.” She’d had rotten food thrown at her, she’d been locked in a damp cell with little food or water, and she certainly hadn’t had a bath… and I’m sure the guy loved her dearly…but… ew.

Overall? I really enjoyed the book. It was a great romp into medieval paranormal fantasy. If you’re a fan of Dark Romance, give it a try. You may really enjoy this book! If BDSM/Dark Romances are your thing,  you may want to look for something a little fluffier…but you’ll be missing out. Personally, I can’t wait to read further into this series, and I look forward to the next book!

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

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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.