Book Review: Avoiding Alpha

review-avoiding alphaTitle: Avoiding Alpha [Alpha Girl 2]

Author: Aileen Erin

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Tessa McCaide has come a long way since her abrupt entrance into the world of werewolves, but she still has just as far to go before she’s comfortable with turning full wolf. In the meantime, she’s avoiding the topic of shifting to four legs any way she can. Thankfully her mate, Dastien Laurent, is quite the distraction.

When she finds her best friend, Meredith, getting sick in the bathroom, Tessa knows something’s majorly wrong. Meredith was cursed years ago, and the dark magic kept her wolf dormant—only now the wolf is awake, and that same spell is killing her.

Tessa has no intention of sitting around while Meredith wastes away. Even if it means playing with magic she doesn’t understand, she’ll do anything to save Meredith’s life. Including bargaining with the local coven of witches and its crazed leader, whose only goal is getting Tessa to join the witchy ranks.

Can Tessa save her friend without losing herself?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed this continuation of Tess and Dastien’s story. Like the first book in the series, this book was well written – the narrative flowed easily, it was engaging, and there weren’t any obvious technical errors. I loved the characters just as much as the first book, and they seemed more at ease with each other. I particularly liked the inclusion of more of the Bruja side of Tessa’s lineage.

So why 4 stars instead of 5?

The book felt significantly shorter than the first. I sped through it so quickly that by chapter 8 I was more than halfway through. It almost felt like an episode of a TV show – there was one main story arc, which they solved pretty quickly, and then the story was done. I think it would have benefited the book to have a few more subplots woven in.

That aside, the book was great. It’s definitely an easy read, meant for Young Adults, but it didn’t feel as angsty as the first book.

Book Review: Becoming Alpha

review-becoming alphaTitle: Becoming Alpha [Alpha Girl 1]

Author: Aileen Erin

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Tessa McCaide has a unique talent for getting into trouble. Then again, it isn’t easy for a girl with psychic visions to ignore what she sees. Luckily Tessa and her family are leaving California and moving halfway across the country, giving her the perfect opportunity to leave her reputation as “Freaky Tessa” behind.

But Tessa doesn’t realize that kissing the wrong guy in her new Texas town could land her in far more trouble than she ever imagined. Like being forced to attend St. Ailbe’s Academy, a secret boarding school for werewolves.

Even if the wrong guy did accidentally turn her into a shapeshifter and doom her to attending the weirdest high school ever, Tessa can’t help her growing attraction to the mysterious Dastien Laurent.

When vampires attack St. Ailbe’s and her visions pinpoint an enemy in their midst, Tessa realizes that boy drama and her newfound canine tendencies might just be the least of her problems.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I liked Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin more than I thought I would. I don’t know what I expected – I picked it up as an easy book, a bit of a break from my current TBR, so I wasn’t expecting much… but as it turned out, I liked it quite a bit. It wasn’t a perfect book, I won’t lie. It’s a Young Adult Paranormal Romance, and as most books in that genre can sometimes be, there was a lot of drama and angst and misunderstandings, but that’s kind of par for the course.

Regardless, the book was easy to sink into. It was well written – I only found one typo – and the narrative flowed easily. I loved the characters, even Imogen. Okay, maybe not Imogen. The lore was slightly different than what I’ve read in similar books – especially when it came to the vampires, and it was a bit of a fun twist to see it handled in a new way. I enjoyed the tug and pull of Tess and Dastien’s relationship especially.

Overall, I think if you like YA Paranormal Romance reads, you’re most likely going to enjoy this one. I’m excited to read more from this author in the near future.

Book Review: The Crimson Throne

reveiewcover-the crimson throneTitle: The Crimson Throne

Author: Christi Stallard

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Dystopian, Vampires

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synoipsis:

Nearly a decade ago, the supernatural creatures hidden in the shadows conquered the world with unspeakable power. The mass takeover became known as the great fall of civilization and the most devastating event in recorded history. 18-year-old Sadie Carlisle has never seen past the walls of Section 18. After a city siege forces Sadie into a fight for survival, an unlikely ally turns her life into a thrilling and terrifying whirlwind. Peter is the ultimate drug; exciting, addictive, and highly dangerous. The war raging between dark creatures threatens everything they’ve discovered in one another. Loyalties are tested, and the fate of humanity rests in the balance. How far would you go for the one you love most?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was so disappointed by The Crimson Throne by Christi Stallard. As a rule, I generally love paranormal romances, dystopias, and just vampires in general… but the writing was so poor that I couldn’t force myself through reading it. I gave up at about 7% into the book.

Although the book had a stunning opening, I spotted several typos as the story continued. The narrative didn’t flow well – it was as if it lacked any sort of soul. There was no seduction or charm to the characters, there was no tension, no pull, no impact. The characters lacked defined personalities. As the story wore on, I became bored… mostly attributed to the lackluster narrative voice and complete absence of description or atmosphere.

In the end, I gave up. There will probably be readers out there that get some form of enjoyment out of this story, but I was looking for more. I think the author could have done better.

Book Review: Token Huntress

reviewcover-token huntressTitle: Token Huntress [Token Huntress 1]

Author: Kia Carrington-Russell

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Esmore is one of the best; a Token in her Hunter Guild. After leading her team into the rubble remains of San Francisco and into an ambush, Esmore admitted her own sacrifice and defeat to protect her people.

Esmore went from being Token Huntress and leading her team to a life captured and hidden within the Vampire Council by a Vampire, Chase who claimed that she was his familiar.
In the year of 2,341, Esmore fights for her survival and the goal to maintain humanity from being entirely destroyed by the vampires who overpowered them those many years ago.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I noped right out of this one. It is incredibly rare for me to give up on a book before the first chapter is over, but I gave up on this particular book before the end of the first page – almost before the end of the first paragraph.

The word choices and stilted flow of the narrative were indicative of sub-par writing. What should have been engaging and fast-paced was instead jarring and awkward. Most of the little narrative I read was incredibly passive and weak, and I ended the first paragraph with a sense of distaste.

I did skim the rest of the first page, just to be sure, but like the first paragraph, it was poorly written.

This may sound harsh, but the first page of a book is often the best indicator of its quality – it is meant to pull the reader in, to catch their attention – and it is the most edited part of the entire work – always checked over and over by both author and editor. There is no excuse for it to be this lackluster.

Book Review: Bargain in Silver

reviewcover-bargain in silverTitle: Bargain in Silver [Solis Invicti 1]

Author: Josie Jaffrey

Genre: Paranormal, Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It’s not a deal that Emmy’s willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.

After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.
But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.

As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Bargain in Silver by Josie Jaffrey. I liked the narrative voice and Emilie – even if she sometimes made poor decisions that often left her in danger. I liked the world-building, the concept of the weepers, and the story flowed easily throughout. For the most part, I was entertained and never felt the need to throw the book across the room – even when it was being overly dramatic.

That being said, it wasn’t perfect. The entire opening sequence of the story didn’t need to be there and had no impact on the story other than to turn the entire thing into one long flashback. On top of this, the characters were often needlessly dramatic, sometimes going into rants that didn’t even fit the scene at hand.

Worst yet, the romance between Emilia and Drew was terribly contrived, moving way too fast to be reasonable (especially on Drew’s end) given the circumstances.

The book, overall, wasn’t great. It wasn’t awful by any means, but it clearly needed more polishing. It’ll be great for a short time-waster, but nothing I’d keep on my shelf in the long run.

Book Review: Hush, Now Forget

reviewcover-hushnowforegetTitle: Hush, Now Forget [Sisters of Bloodcreek 1]

Author: Mary Gray

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

No one will tell Eva and Frost the truth about the Blurred Ones. Not their hunter friend, and definitely not the parentals. Maybe it’s because Frost spent time in a psychiatric ward and Eva never ceases to think with her hormones. So, when the girls see an opportunity to meet Albert Knox, the most infamous Blurred One of all, they lie about their true plans and head out on their field trip to San Antonio.

When the sisters get to town, though, a ghost woman keeps attacking them in their hotel room, and they end up getting one of their classmates killed. Eva thinks she can use her feminine wiles to woo Knox, but he has a couple of more minions than they thought—and she ends up getting tossed through the window. If the sisters and their newfound hottie hunters don’t take down Knox soon, he’ll permanently attach himself to Eva in a binding ritual.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I almost gave Hush, Now Forget by Mary Gray 3 stars. Almost. Here’s the problem, I think the book tried a little too hard, and as a consequence, shot itself in the foot.

The book felt like it started mid-story, which was a bit disorienting. The reader isn’t brought into the heavy world-building gradually, but all at once. As a consequence, I felt like I’d missed something, and it took a while to orient myself to what was going on.

Aside from this, the worldbuilding, while interesting, and a bit familiar in the way of Supernatural, was a bit overdone. It slid so far from “normal” with the egregious amount of small-town-hick references, that it didn’t feel real anymore. Part of this can be attributed to the author’s major problem: they have a penchant for latching onto a point, and then driving that point into the ground with repetition.

I could have pushed further into the book, it wasn’t awful, but honestly, I didn’t want to – not if the rest of the book followed this pattern. At about 5 % in, I got bored. There will be people out there that enjoy this book a lot more than I did, and I encourage you to give it a try because I do think it has an interesting plot- it just wasn’t for me personally.

Book Review: October 32

reviewcover-october 32Title: October 32

Author: Larry Rodness

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s October 31, and insurance agent Alexander Malefant is sent to picturesque Elora during its annual Halloween festival. No sooner does Alexander arrive than he witnesses the near-drowning of a boy bobbing for apples. Shortly after that, a group of children are attacked by crows. Later that evening, all the children in the village suddenly disappear. Soon, every person becomes a suspect as residents frantically try to discover what happened to the children. Who or what is behind these disappearances, and can they get the children back before it’s too late?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really wanted to like October 32nd by Larry Rodness. I Found the narrative voice personal and contemplative, and I thought, “this is going great!” But the farther I got into the book, the more the slow pace of the narrative felt like it was dragging. Not that I don’t appreciate the atmosphere, but 22 pages into the story, nothing had happened. I grew bored and started to skim, wondering when the story was going to begin.

And that’s it – the book wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t draw me in. I didn’t care about the main character, and I wasn’t interested in what was happening in the town. I think the book just missed the mark with it’s pacing and I don’t want to have to push myself into reading something I’m bored by. The book just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Bloodwalker

reviewcover-bloodwalkerTitle: Bloodwalker

Author: L.X. Cain

Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain. I almost feel bad for rating it 3 stars, but not quite enough to do otherwise. The book itself is written well – it flowed easily, had interesting characters, and the narrative voice was clear. The atmosphere was decent, as was the world-building, and the killer clown was downright chilling.

All that said, I just wasn’t drawn into the book. Although I love the horror genre and supernatural mysteries, I felt just so-so about this one. It wasn’t awful by any means, just not my cup of tea. I think there are readers out there that will enjoy this book quite a lot, and I certainly recommend it to readers of horror. I wish I’d liked it better.

Book Review: Night Demon

reviewcover-nightdemonTitle: Night Demon [Night 2]

Author: Lisa Kessler

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Gretchen Finch’s job would be much easier if she weren’t alone in the jungle with a brilliant recluse whose every glance sets her on fire. But the more she focuses on her work, the closer she gets to unlocking the mysteries of a terrible creature – the Night Demon – that threatens the world as she knows it. Though her scientific mind tells her it’s impossible, she’s beginning to believe the ancient Mayan tales as the sinister jungle comes alive around her.

Lukas Smith has spent hundreds of years searching for answers to his immortal Night Walker nature. As a series of ancient glyphs become clear, he’s about to find out more than he’d ever hoped, but the more he learns, the more his fate intertwines with the Night Demon, and the harder it becomes to hide his immortal secret from the beautiful, intelligent Gretchen.

Together, they must find a way to stop the inexplicable violence and mass destruction surging across the earth before the Night Demon destroys more than just mankind.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Night Demon by Lisa Kessler. Overall, it’s a decent read. I liked the location the majority of the book took place in. I liked the characters, the romance, and the writing style. The world-building was a bit vaguer than I would have liked, but still substantial enough to carry the story. I enjoyed the overall plot and the sequence of events. 
 
What I didn’t like, was how large the cast of the book was, and how much time was spent hopping between the different characters. I don’t feel like hopping between the points of view of the guardian, or the gods who created him was necessary to the plot, and in some ways, it detracted from the narrative by pulling the reader’s attention away from the two main characters. It felt too much like the author was revisiting characters from elsewhere in the series, rather than letting them go so the focus could stay on the romance plot of this book. It was distracting.
 
Did I hate the book? No. As I said, for the most part, I enjoyed the book. If you like paranormal romance reads, this one wasn’t bad – I just think it could have been better. I gave this book 3 stars because it’s a mixed bag. Not great, not terrible. It’s worth reading, but I wouldn’t keep a copy on my bookshelf.

Book Review: The Lost Vampire Prince

reviewcover-the lost vampire princeTitle: The Lost Vampire Prince [Evil Rising 1]

Author: Melody Raven

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Nicolas is the embodiment of royalty. Strong. Powerful. Deadly. The only thing he’s missing is his throne.

Decades ago a vampire mutiny murdered his father and forced him into hiding, but all that is about to change. A mortal woman smart enough to learn the truth about him and naive enough to trust him is the perfect pawn to sneak him back into the monarchy.

Nothing is going to stop Nicolas from getting what is rightfully his. Not lust. Not love. And not Anna. At least that’s what he thinks.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Lost Vampire Prince by Melody Raven – although it wasn’t perfect. The romance was steamy, I liked all of the characters, the writing was well-done and edited.  If you like vampire romances, this book is pretty solid.
 
  My only real complaint is that I wish it had a little more depth. I think the author could have pushed a little further into the world and character-building than she did. The lead up into the story left out a lot of explanation of Annabelle’s past (and well, frankly, the past of all the characters) it felt skimmed over in a way. Though it didn’t detract from the story, I do feel that a stronger tie into those past moments with the abuse of Annabelle, her friendship with Evie, and the dynamic between Nicolas and his father would have substantially improved how connected I felt to the characters throughout the story. As it stands, it was a good book – it just wasn’t a stand-out one.
 
Still, I’d recommend you pick it up if you’re looking for a fast paranormal romance story to pick up.