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.

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: Bite of a Vampire

review-cover-bite of a vampireTitle: Bite of a Vampire [Volume 1]

Author: Anna Belsky

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Vampires

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

I never was a romance novel kind of girl, maybe that’s why I decided to get in the business of proving that love was meant to be unfaithful. Call me bitter but my full name is Emily Johnson, and I work as a private investigator for Jonesville Extramarital Affairs. It’s my daily job to investigate, snap photos of and usually proves that a spouse has found someone else to dilly-dally with. It was a bit of a dream job after having my own respect and dignity broken so many times in college by a guy named Robert, Bob for short. I don’t hold a grudge against him, he was my first, and he taught me that love relationships are not really things that exist. My best friend Abby doesn’t believe me so I decided to prove my point and become a Private Investigator.

On this night Emily’s world turns upside down when she comes across a vampire attacking one of her investigations. She is swept into a world of the supernatural and must draw from all her experiences as Private Investigator to survive… or so she thinks until she meets Michael.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Bite of a Vampire by Anna Belsky was a fun, if short, endeavor into an imaginative vampire-filled world. To be honest, I’m a little up in the air over it. It was a fun book. I liked the characters, I liked the intrigue of the plotline, the danger, and the steamy romance. There was a good amount of gore and danger, and the more paranormal aspects of the books (like the ghosts) were really well done.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the book was perfect. The editing in this book was poorly done. I ran into dozens of grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and sentences that just made no sense. The errors made me pause several times to re-read, and ultimately pulled me out of the book. The writing style was first person, present tense…but sometimes that tense was messed up. The style of the writing was a little underdeveloped, and it often felt like I was being ‘told’ the story a little too much, rather than the author letting me sink into the narrative.

Was the book terrible? No. I did enjoy it—but I think it could have easily been better than what it was. The story was just too short to do it’s characters and plotline justice, and the editing was sub-par, making it a difficult book to get into. This is something I’d recommend for people looking for a light, paranormal read to soak in on a bus ride.

Book Review: Tormented By Ghosts

review-cover-tormented by ghostsTitle: Tormented By Ghosts: True Life Experiences

Author: Lynda Bogert, Darrell Gibbs

Genre: Paranormal, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Horror

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

She wants to be normal, but the spirit world has other plans. Tormented by Ghosts is a true story about unfortunate encounters with ghosts and other otherworldly paranormal phenomena that have greatly affected Lynda’s life. The struggles include harrowing encounters of unwanted Out of Body Experiences (OBEs), her Near Death Experience (NDE), her horrifying visit from a demonic apparition, and mysterious bone-chilling ghostly visits. This book encompasses her thirty years of coping to learn and educate herself to understand and utilize her spiritual abilities and tools to help herself and others. Her daily battle is to overcome the paranormal and control the abilities that she has been given! Is she seeing and hearing ghosts that may have a message for her or to let themselves be known or to simply taunt her? This is a story with many stories. You’ll want to sleep with the lights on because it could also happen to you, too…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Think what you will, I’ve been a long time believer in the supernatural—though I still consider myself a skeptic. Because of this, I am a huge fan of ghosts stories, but I also like to view ghost stories with a healthy amount of skepticism. I want proof. Evidence. Unfortunately, the way Tormented by Ghosts by Lynda Bogert was written it was very difficult to believe that these were true stories—and maybe they were—who am I to judge? My hesitance is not so much a product of the stories themselves, but the way they were presented.

Honestly, the book was not well written. The narrative rambled from topic to topic with no clear format or breaks to delineate what was happening. The writing wasn’t fluid or clear and concise, but instead hard to follow. The dialogue was about as believable as a Carebear’s scripted speech and throughout the narrative, the author threw in big bad thesaurus words like stymied and invidious that really didn’t fit the context or style of the writing.

I tried to get through this book and stick to following the story, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t like it, and I don’t know that I could recommend it. It needs another strong round with an experienced editor. Lines like “I’ve never vibrated this much in my life.” Should never have made it into the final copy.

Free Fiction Friday #72

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #70! For those of you who are new to this blog, or 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 that 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 them is: Paranormal!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Moonlight

review-cover-moonlightTitle: Moonlight [Moonkind Series 2]

Author: Ines Johnson

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

You can never go home again…

Viviane Veracruz is on her way home from university with a degree in one hand…and a baby in her belly. Desperate to escape the judgement of her family, she accepts a sexy stranger’s offer to pose as the father for a few days. The plan is for him to run off leaving her family none the wiser. But the longer Pierce Alcede stays, the more she can’t let him go.

Home is where the heart is…

Pierce Alcede has finally come to terms with the fact that he is a lone wolf, prone to roam the wilderness alone and never settle down with a family of his own. When he meets a pregnant woman in need, he thinks nothing of stepping in to take the brunt of her family’s ire. But somewhere between working on the Veracruz Ranch by day and climbing into Viviane’s bed at night, Pierce forgets to run away.
Can a woman searching for a place to belong find a home with a man who lives to roam?

Moonlight is the second in a paranormal romance series full of alpha men and the strong, capable women that bend them to their knees. If you like a touch of magic in your romance novels, then you’ll love the witches, fairies, and wolves in the dystopian world of the moonkind.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Moonlight by Ines Johnson was nothing like I expected. I’ve read many werewolf themed books over the years, but this one genuinely surprised me. It was interesting to see a plot where werewolves not only had a new lore behind them but to also have werewolves generally accepted in everyday life by humans. It was something I’ve seen done in many vampire novels, but not in one about werewolves.

The main Couple, Pierce, and Viviane were endearing, steamy, and unsure in their budding relationship, and I thoroughly enjoyed both characters immensely.

Editing wise, I ran into one or two typos, but nothing so obvious as to pull me out of the narrative. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet werewolf romance with some pretty unique characters and lore.

Book Review: Ignition

review-cover-ignitionTitle: Ignition [The Escaping Demons Saga 2]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Life has never been easy for Jasmine Johnstone, but failing for Nathan Stevenson brings a whole new level of difficulty. Since she arrived at his home he’s blown hot and cold with her, turned against her and revealed a deadly threat. He is sworn to kill her, and fights against his love for her more than ever, but he knows he can’t live without her.

As they run from monsters, and each other, can their love survive?

Time begins to run out and with new friends and enemies in the strangest places, will they learn who to trust in time?

With their love stronger than ever, but forces pulling them apart, is love enough to keep them together or will Nathan’s parents succeed in pulling them apart?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was a mess. Yes, a mess—and I’m being generous. I had some hopes after the first book that maybe this book would be better. Maybe the author would explain things, maybe Nate would somehow beautifully and tragically save Jasmine as to redeem their relationship in some matter. Anything… but what I got was an even bigger tangle of absurdity than with the first book.

The book was littered with typos. Missing words, improper grammar, misspellings, omitted words, even lack of clarifying punctuation. There were too many mistakes for a book that had a professional editor. On the plus side, the writing, for the most part, remained clear despite these problems and flowed along reasonably well.

My biggest problem with this book was the egregious amount of plot holes, obvious plot devices, contradictory phrases, and just the plain absurdity of what the characters were saying, doing, or thinking at any time. I literally broke down into hysterical laughter after about the 15th time the male demon love interest, Nate, shed a tear and Jasmine noted that she’d never seen him break down and cry before. REALLY? I cracked up laughing and exclaimed “Where have you been? He never stops crying!” Nate was constantly sobbing, breaking down into tears, or shedding a tear over everything. Their relationship was in a never ending loop that went something like this: “Baby, I love you more than anything, more than my life!” “I hate you. I never loved you.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was protecting you! I love you! Please forgive me!” repeat ad infinitum. I lost track of how many times this cycle of love/hate repeated itself, but it was painfully predictable.

Also painfully predictable, was the number of times Jasmine tripped, fell into something, or got a head injury. The girl should have serious brain damage. More worrisome perhaps, was the author’s penchant for softening the blow of all the tensest moments by going meta and explaining what was about to happen. “I didn’t know then that…” became a common theme.

As the book wore on the writing got more and more absurd. Bits of information were thrown in to move the plot along that reasonably, the main character should have never known. She somehow learned magic and how to identify wild herbs out of nowhere when it was needed, even though she’d been orphaned and in the foster care system since she was little. When she needed to drive, it mentioned that she had taken a few driving lessons a few months before. When? When did this happen? She’d been living in the demon household for over a year at that point, and I really can’t imagine that they let her out to take driving lessons. She suddenly identified a witch trap even though until that moment, witches had never been mentioned in the books. She identified an obscure Japanese mythological creature by name even though she didn’t know they existed until that moment. It never ended. Things kept getting introduced into the story, and suddenly Jasmine knew what they were or how to deal with them “although she didn’t know how she knew”—and that was the best explanation we got.

At one point, we were even introduced to the fact that Jasmine had a little brother and sister… (which were never mentioned in the first book), that she somehow forgot existed. Soak that in.

Frankly, the book was badly written and a bit ridiculous. The romance between the two main characters was abusive—full of lies and physical abuse—and every opportunity Jasmine had to get away, she quickly went back on before the page was even over. She was constantly playing the victim, and it got to be both irritating, and after awhile, sickening to read. I honestly don’t understand how this book got so many 4 and 5-star reviews because it’s probably one of the most infuriating and repetitive books I’ve ever read. This is not something I would recommend. Period.