Book Review: Blessedly Bound

review-cover-blessedly boundTitle: Blessedly Bound [An Elemental Witch Trials Novel 1]

Author: Lucretia Stanhope

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Gwen Hensley finds herself pulled into something life altering when she inherits a sprawling manor from a grandmother she never knew. As a witch, she uses her gift of sight to experience her grandmother die in a brutal execution by flames. The vision is only the catalyst that tosses her into a mystery involving a killer with psychopathic tendencies and a vitriol for witches.

Seeking aid in unraveling the mystery, she discovers her familiar, Lewis, is wrapped up in her family curse that involves voodoo and a sacrifice of the first-born witch in each generation. The neighbor, Sebastian, her grandmother’s best friend and a familiar with his own haunted past, tugs her in intimate and magical ways, which both puts her in danger and a position to be more powerful than she ever dreamed possible.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like this book, unfortunately, the story started painfully slow. The author spent a lot of time “telling” the reader what was happening rather than showing it. The characters spent a lot of time simply doing inane tasks and participating in small talk. By the time the book hit 10%, I was bored.

I pushed on, and at 16% in I gave up. The narrative was slow, wordy, and methodical in its descriptions. The characters spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation and simple tasks and yet the story didn’t seem to progress. Although the premise was interesting and the characters unique, I didn’t feel drawn in by the narrative.

Overall, I would say that it could be an interesting book for the right reader, and those out there with a higher tolerance for slow starts might end up really enjoying it, but it just didn’t hold my attention. I prefer more tension and quicker paced fiction.

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Book Review: Something

review-cover-SomethingTitle: Something [Wisteria 1]

Author: Shelby Lamb

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror, New Adult

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

They say be careful what you read. Something is wrong. Something is very wrong. It can happen to anyone. This is just four teenagers’ story.

Aubrey Golding hates her face, her body, and is devastated after Nathan Silva leaves her. Alone, suicidal, and desperate for love, she discovers a book called Something and unknowingly links others to a dark and terrifying curse that is beginning to consume her.

Nathan is glad to be moving on with someone new and can hardly believe what is happening now. Wild child and amateur porn star, Bella Broadhurst, loves bullying that “emo whore” Aubrey with the other girls, but mostly she loves partying, hookups, and plain ol’ drama when terror arises. And Kendra Coke is just a new teen mother working on a delicate relationship when things start becoming utterly bizarre.

Chilling sleep disturbances and figures hiding in the corners of their rooms are just warnings of what is to come. Be careful what you read, they say. Tread carefully…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

DNF. I wanted to like this book—the premise certainly sounded interesting, but unfortunately, the execution fell drastically short. I have to be honest: I didn’t like this book. At all.

The story started with a huge section describing the character down to her moles. She was a predictable emo-hipster complete with pastel pink hair and piercings, constantly listening to dated Evanescence songs while she whined about her absent boyfriend, friends, and well… just about everything. Frankly, I didn’t like her. She was depressing to listen to, and the way she was set up made it painfully obvious that she was just like every other dramatically written emo teen; painfully special in her sad, cliché way.

The narrative voice was filled with poetic description about things that weren’t relevant to the story, and after just 4% of the book—I was bored.

I know there are people out there that love this book–I have seen the 4 and 5-star reviews–and I applaud them for their dedication in reading through this entire book. Really, I do. It just wasn’t for me, and honestly, I can’t recommend it. I don’t think it was well written. I am incredibly disappointed.

Book Review: The Belgrave Legacy

review-cover-The Belgrave LegacyTitle: The Belgrave Legacy

Author: Zara Hoffman

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Fawn doesn’t believe in magic. But it is very real, and has made her a vulnerable target.
Caleb is sick of Hell. When the Devil offers him a way out, he immediately says yes.
Can this young witch trust the dark angel assigned to romance and seduce her? Or will his betrayal tear them apart forever?

The Belgrave Legacy is an upper-young adult paranormal romance. Filled with magic, witches, angels, and demons, this story will keep you turning the pages until the very end. Buy the book now, and discover a world hiding in our own.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I could not finish this book. I wanted to. In fact, I made it further into this book than I normally do when I DNF. Chapter 19. 67% into the story. Let me explain what happened.

This book started off slow. There were tedious bits of over explanation of things the main character probably should have already known before the start of the story. The author had a habit of introducing new things into the story by simply dropping them in rather than leading up to the reveals or intertwining bits of information slowly throughout the plot. This lead to several jarring moments where I had to sit back and readjust my world view of the book before continuing on.

The writing itself was for the most part, technically correct. There were a few missing words and weirdly structured sentences, but nothing I couldn’t have pushed past. It was simply the way that information was imparted to the reader and the dramatic way the characters acted within the narrative that made it painful to follow along at times. It lacked a sense of depth to the world building and storytelling.

As the story progressed, I worked my way past these speed bumps. I found that I quite liked the characters and the romance between the main couple (even though their romance sped along exceedingly fast). The story seemed to be leading up to a big moment, as stories do, and that moment came – and things were resolved. They beat the bad guy in a manner of speaking. The romance hit a rough patch – but was working towards being resolved… everything was shaping up for the end of the book–and I thought, “that wasn’t so bad.”… and then I looked at my progress in the book, and I was only halfway through.

It felt strange to hit a section of the book that seemed to be “the end”. It sure felt like The End… but then it didn’t happen. The story kept going, skipping large amounts of time. Events were happening with no lead-up, again just being dropped into the story. There was a training montage… and It got to where I was 67% in the book and sat back and wondered… when is this going to end? I was bored, and not a lot was happening. It felt like the book had completed and then there was this really long, really tedious epilog to go through.. that just happened to take up half the story. So, I put it down.

I didn’t hate the book. I don’t even think it was a bad book. The cover is gorgeous. The title was fitting and mysterious. The characters were likable… the plot was really interesting… but the execution fell flat–and that’s all there is to it. There are going to be a lot of people out there that enjoy this book more than I did… and that’s great. I just didn’t have the patience to sit through another 33% of the book when it already felt like the book had ended, and what I’d already read was only so-so on the execution.

Book Review: Mind Waves

review-cover-Mind WavesTitle: Mind Waves [Mind Hackers 1]

Author: Amanda Uhl

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

If he can control her mind…

Government operative David Jenkins is skilled at controlling his emotions. Feelings are lethal when your job is to infiltrate minds, erase and implant thoughts, and guard the nation’s intellectual capital. But even he can’t fight his strange attraction to Grace Woznisky. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from a madman intent on possessing both their minds. Neither suspect their dangerous enemy has a larger motive, and David may be Grace’s only chance for survival.

Can he control her heart?

All freelance artist Grace wants is steady-paying work and to see her flighty sister to the altar. But after David offers her a job, she finds herself in the middle of a mental tug of war—one that has her reeling from nightmares and fighting for her life. She must decide: Are her growing feelings for her new boss authentic, or is she a victim of his mind-altering abilities?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Mind Waves by Amanda Uhl isn’t my typical pick for a romance. Sure, it has all the elements I love in fiction: Suspense, Romance, Paranormal… but I don’t often look to combine all three. However, I find that I enjoyed this book regardless. There was a lot of tension in this book and a sense of imminent danger. The romance was equal parts dangerous, sweet, and sexy.

The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was the mind-reading bits (and I’ll admit that’s a pretty significant part of the book). I couldn’t get over the weird in-mind visuals of the guys fighting with long whip-like arms, the constant referral to “portals” and “happy place”. It came across as a bit cheesy. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it, it felt almost… dated… reminding me of similar books I read in the late 90’s. I’m sure it’s probably just a personal hang up… but I just couldn’t get over it.

I also wish the sweet and sometimes sexy romance between the two main characters had been a little more sexually charged. The couple spent so much time doubting and arguing with each other that I sometimes forgot they were in love. It would have been nice to see a little more sexual tension thrown in, and a few more endearing moments to round it out.

That being said–it wasn’t all bad. I found the plot compelling. I liked the characters (even the evil ones). The writing was impeccable; the pace moved along steadily and I never ran into any jarring grammatical issues or structure hang-ups. Despite my rather tepid feelings towards how the mind-reading was handled, I did enjoy the book quite a bit. Which why I gave it four stars. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of readers out there that enjoy certain aspects of the books more than I did, and I encourage you to give this book a try if it sounds like something you might be interested in. I’d say it leans a little more heavily towards the suspenseful side of the plot than the romance, but there’s still a good measure of romance to it. Give it a try.

Book Review: Protected by the Mountain Wolf

review-cover-protected by the mountain wolf

Title: Protected by the Mountain Wolf [Mountain Wolf Protectors 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Amara’s life changed the moment she was attacked by a group of wolves. She was only 15 at the time, who could blame her for ignoring her grandfather’s warnings? She quickly began to believe all those stories he told her about the wolves who protected their town, Strathford. The wolves who could turn into humans. Shifters, as she learned they were called.

Ten years had passed since then, and Nova still couldn’t forgive himself for letting the Valley Clan slip into their territory unnoticed. If only he had been there in time. Since that day, he made a vow to himself to protect her, no matter what happens. Though he didn’t personally know Amara, he felt a connection to her after watching over her all these years. With his curiosity growing each day, he finally decided to visit her at work. He’d talk to her for an hour, settle his curiosity and then never speak to her again. Or so he thought…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Protected by the Mountain Wolf is the first book I’ve read by Emilia Hartley and I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The book was well edited and easy to read. I didn’t run into any glaring mistakes or structural issues. The narrative moved along quickly. I will admit though, that the quick pace of the book was also one of the drawbacks for me. Personally, I like to sink into my fiction and live there for awhile, and I felt like I couldn’t necessarily do that with this book. Also, perhaps because of the pace, the sex scenes seemed to lack some of the sexual tension I was expecting.

That being said,  I adored the characters, the romance, and the danger of the plot. It was a good story, and if wishing a book were a little longer is its only flaw—that’s a pretty good flaw to have. If anything, I wish there had been more to the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced, easy paranormal romance to read through over the weekend or an afternoon, this would probably be a solid choice for you. I look forward to reading more by this author in the very near future.

Book Review: Alpha Kaden

cover-review-Alpha KadenTitle: Alpha Kaden [Alpha 2]

Author: Midika Crane

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves

Rating: 3 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Alpha Kaden by Midika Crane. From the synopsis, I assumed this was going to be a very dark romance tinged with bits of insanity–which is something I don’t often read, but I do find fascinating… but that isn’t really what I found. In fact, let’s be clear: the synopsis is incredibly misleading.

There were definite elements of darkness and insanity to the story (and a whole lot of romance) but not in the way I expected–and I’m not sure how I feel about that. At first, the romance between Kaden and Mara was everything it promised. There was this element of darkness and insanity that made the situation between the two lovers sultry and taboo…but then part way through the book there is a twist (and not a bad one at that!) that completely changes how we readers see Alpha Kaden.

Without giving too much away, he went from being this bad-ass, devilishly charismatic man… to being, well… kind of a wimp. On the one hand, I understand why the author changed his personality mid-way through, but on the other hand, I don’t think it was the best way to handle the situation. Kaden is an Alpha… just because the twist happened, doesn’t mean he stops being an Alpha. Frankly, I liked him before the twist a lot better than after. Mara didn’t agree with me apparently. She went from hating this man beyond words to falling madly in love with him n the course of a page—which was annoying, to say the least.

That being said, the chemistry between the characters was steamy, and everything you want from a romance once you get past the initial shock and confusion. The world building was interesting, the characters, though maybe a bit shallow, were compelling enough to carry the story. The writing itself was easy to read and flowed well. I just wish the Alpha hadn’t become such a Beta. It felt rushed and sloppy the way it was handled.

If you like paranormal romances with suspense and werewolves, you’ll probably enjoy Alpha Kaden. Despite its flaws, it was entertaining and definitely worth reading, but this isn’t going to be one of those books that you re-read over and over.

Book Review: The Haunted Manor

review-cover-the haunted manorTitle: The Haunted Manor [Power and Love 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Luck has not been on Lord Michael Baird’s side. After losing yet another large sum of money, he is relieved to discover that he has been left an estate in Scotland. With the ownership of this new estate he decides he will do his best to make it profitable. Upon arrival to the town he notices how unfriendly everyone seems to be. Finally when he reaches his estate he is met with not only a less-than-pleasant manor, but also household staff who refuse to even stay in the estate overnight. They try to explain about the ghostly goings-on in the home but he ignores their warnings completely. However it isn’t long before Michael is thoroughly convinced! He learns that there is only one person who might be able to help him rid his new estate of the malevolent spirits that haunt it: Rebecca.

Rebecca is the village’s wise woman who is only too willing to help. Ignoring her growing attraction to Michael, she works hard to find out more about the spirits and how she can banish them forever using her magic. Michael is surprised to discover that the wise woman is both young and beautiful, and a desire for her grows the moment he first sets eyes on her. Realizing that nothing can happen between them, he tries to put his attraction aside, knowing that he will need to marry well if he is to set the estate to rights.

Will they be able to rid the estate of its ghosts and pursue their love for each other, or will Michael’s pursuit for money push her away for good?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is the second book from Emilia Hartley that I’ve read in the past week, and honestly, I’m underwhelmed. I wanted to like this book—it has everything I enjoy: it’s a historical romance that deals with the paranormal. What’s not to love? Apparently… quite a bit.

Here’s the thing: In the past year I read a book that was almost identical to this one in plot. Guy takes over a dilapidated manor, finds out it’s haunted, asks the local wise woman/town witch to help him out in getting rid of the haunting…they fall in love, things are resolved… and they live happily ever after. The one big difference is the other book was written better. Judging solely on the two books I’ve read from this author, she has a tendency to rush through her narrative. The pace in The Haunted Manor was quick to the point of making the events absurd. Despite societal rules and barely knowing each other, the main couple falls in love almost instantly, and within a handful of days, are ready to change their entire lives for each other. It’s a bit much to believe.

Another problem was the characters. They were all pretty 1-dimensional. The main male lead, Lord Michael Baird, was snobbish, entitled, arrogant, and weak-willed. The entire reason he decided he couldn’t be with the woman he loved… is because he thought it beneath his station to get his hands dirty. I did not like him as a character, and I found his attitude towards the other characters condescending. His voice came off as feminine—but trying not to be. The funny thing is… other than Michael not wanting to step below his station, almost all other historical societal conventions of the time period were completely ignored.

As for the technical aspect of the book—it wasn’t bad. It was relatively clean and easy to read, although I did find a misused word, some doubled words and a few punctuation problems. It wasn’t what I’d consider egregious.

Overall, I was underwhelmed. I expected more out of this book, and I was disappointed by the rushed, lackluster manner in which it was written. I think it could have been better with a bit of polishing and some critical beta readers. In the end, I just didn’t like it.  If you like fluffy, short reads, you may enjoy this book, it just wasn’t for me.