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.

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.