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.

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Book Review: The Girl Who Talks To Ghosts

reivew-cover-the girl who talks to ghostsTitle:  The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts [GhostWriters 2]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It took me awhile to decide how I was going to rate The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff—the second book in the GhostWriters series. I honestly can’t decide if I liked it more than the first book or not. Personally, the ghost story and surrounding aspects of the plotline were a lot more interesting for me than those of the first book. I liked Lily’s POV as well as Kate’s much better than I liked Jackson’s (even though I didn’t know it at the time). It was fun following Kate around as she delved further into the paranormal than the author had been willing to in the first book.

Unfortunately, not all was hugs and puppies. I think an unfortunate consequence of Kate and Lily’s POVs being so interesting, was that Jackson fell a bit by the wayside. He was definitely more of a supporting character in this story, and honestly, kind of a useless one. He seemed to be around mostly to illustrate his ignorance about the paranormal, and to fail at being diplomatic. I don’t think he was necessarily as integral to the plot as he was intended to be, and so his character fell a bit flat.

As a smaller note, there were also a few plot holes. Most were minor, and they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole, so I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re looking for a solid paranormal ghost story, I highly recommend you check out this author and the various books in this series.

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: 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.

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.