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: Beastly Lights

review-cover-beastly lightsTitle: Beastly Lights

Author: Theresa Jane

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Release Date: March 29, 2017 – Not yet available on Amazon at the time this review was posted.

Description/Synopsis:

Gambled away by her brother, Freya is now bound to the music world’s resident bad boy Liam Henderson as his live-in maid.

Freya Coleman is a struggling artist who can hardly get by. With a past she would rather not revisit and a future that didn’t extend past her next cup of coffee, something had to change. Freya just didn’t know how much.

Liam Henderson lives in the spotlight. His wild nights and latest conquests make every woman want him, and every man want to be him. The rockstar has a carefully constructed persona to keep everyone out. That is, until a drunken night gets out of hand and he finds himself with the winning hand in a poker game, and the prize is a feisty redhead. A prize who just might break down the walls he has been so desperately hiding behind.

Thrown together, these two are a disaster waiting to happen. A disaster the world is eager to watch and comment on until their fingers drop off. What starts off as a fake relationship to improve Liam’s image, blossoms into so much more, and Freya is swept up into the world of bright lights and illusions. Everyone has an opinion when the lights are shining on their beloved rock god Liam Henderson, and they are eagerly waiting to tear down anyone who is bathed in the famous glow.

Can happily ever after exist when the whole world is watching?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to give this book the benefit of the doubt. I’ll admit, when I picked up Beastly Lights by Theresa Jane, I didn’t immediately like the main characters, particularly Freya. My first impression of her was that she was jaded, pessimistic and a bit of a complainer. The way she narrated the story made it seem as if she was generally unhappy and unkind to those around her, often making negative in-head comments about her friends and relatives. It didn’t put this book off to a great start.

The main male lead,  Liam, wasn’t much better. He was constantly drunk, jaded, and pretty much treated all his friends (and Freya) like trash. In fact, a lot of the characters were not only imperfect, but downright awful people, and it was hard to get past that for the first couple of chapters.

But (and that’s a big but), the story improved. As the story continued I found myself enjoying the stubbornness of Freya and the little disputes between here and Liam. There were moments when I genuinely laughed at her strange snarky comments and the way she handled Liam’s off-putting manner. This was a character, that although heavily flawed and marked by her past, was more than willing to stand up for herself and challenge the people around her. She didn’t let this rock star walk all over her. Freya didn’t bend for anyone—and not only did she not bend, she often pushed back. Over time, I grew to really enjoy her character and the dynamic relationship between her and Liam.

Although there wasn’t actually much maid-work going on throughout the story (make no mistake, that part of the plot was quickly dropped), the overall story was very reminiscent of some Korean drama’s I’ve seen. It was an interesting mix of dark drama, light-hearted comedy, and a bit of a power war between the main couple that made it really fun and interesting.

Although the book wasn’t a straight home-run for me—there were definitely some parts of the story that I felt could have used a little more polish, or at least been a little less obvious—I do think this was a promising start from a new author, and I ended up really enjoying it overall. I only ran into a few typos (not bad for an ARC), and I think overall, I enjoyed the book.  If you’re interested in a fun contemporary read with a dynamic relationship at its core, I think you’ll probably really enjoy Beastly Lights.

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: An Intriguing Proposition

review-book-an intriguing propositionAuthor: An Intriguing Proposition [The Defiant Hearts Series Prequel]

Title: Sydney Jane Baily

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following her father’s untimely death, eldest daughter Elise Malloy discovers that the family home is collateral for a mysterious loan. With no record of payments made from her father’s accounts, whoever was paying the bank has now stopped, and foreclosure is imminent.

Desperate to keep the news from her grieving, funds-starved family, Elise answers the bank summons and faces Michael Bradley, an old flame who still owns her heart. When Michael extends an unseemly dinner invitation, Elise invents a nameless suitor as an excuse.

Now, to save face, she must produce him.

Jonathan Amory, Esquire, seems the perfect choice, until her long-desired relationship with Michael unexpectedly catches fire, and Jonathan makes it clear he will stop at nothing to destroy her family and lock her into a loveless marriage.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I nearly didn’t make it through this book, which is an odd thing to say about something I ended up giving 4 stars to. The beginning was slow, the main female lead came across as weak and demure, and there was something about the opening sequence that just didn’t sit well with me. Maybe it was the contradictions in the way we were first introduced to the main characters, maybe it was the fact that my pet peeve over having a character commit actions out of sequence (reaction before action) that had me all riled up. Regardless, I never put the book down.

But I didn’t.

By the time the love interest and Elise’s situation came into play, I was engrossed in the story (though I admit, I was hoping for a twist to the romance plot that sadly didn’t happen). The romance between Elise and Michael was sweet and adorable. I do wish there had been a little more sexual tension or tension at all in their relationship… I think it could have been dragged out a little more, but overall it was lovely. The only thing that really bothered me about the plot is that the one gay character also happened to be the ‘bad guy’. Yes, I do understand that at that time it was generally frowned upon, but did he have to be gay to be the bad guy? No.

Other than that, the book was pretty well written. I only ran into one typo. The book flowed well, and it was easy to sink into. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet historical romance with a tiny bit of sultry spice to it.

Free Fiction Friday #75

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #75! 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: ALL THINGS ROMANCE!

P.S. Because Romance is one of my favorite genres, has so many subgenres, and it is nearly Valentine’s Day, I’m giving you an extra special Free Fiction Friday today! Enjoy all the extra books! (Both YA and Adult)

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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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: My Fair Assassin

review-cover-my fair assassin

Title: My Fair Assassin

Author: C.J. Anaya

Genre: Urban, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s not everyday a teenage girl is singled out for assassination.

Crysta has come to accept the fact that she is freakishly different. Her shocking white hair, creepy powers, and weird eating habits have prevented her from fitting in with her various foster families. Now that she is fully emancipated and providing for herself, she hopes that life will settle down and become something halfway normal.

Her hopes are shattered when a dangerous man with lethal intent breaks into her apartment, but this enticing stranger isn’t what he seems. Is he here to kill her or protect her from others who will?

My Fair Assassin is a romantic short story with elements of paranormal and urban fantasy woven in for an entertaining read. It also touches on social issues involving personal self-esteem and acceptance. Adults and teens alike will enjoy getting lost in the pages of Crysta’s story as she finally comes to accept who she is…or rather what she is.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Though perhaps a bit short, I enjoyed My Fair Assassin by C.J. Anaya. The book was well written—I spotted maybe one typo in the entire book, which is pretty fantastic for any book, traditionally published or otherwise. The writing was clear, easy to follow, and moved at a decent pace.

I will admit that the characters struck me as a bit under-developed though. It didn’t feel as though Crysta was a genuine 17-year-old, and given her upbringing, she seemed a bit too well-adjusted to be believable. She felt fabricated at times because of this, and older than she was meant to be. Jareth on the other hand came across as, well, a bit dumb to be honest. I understand that he was meant to be simply ignorant of the idiosyncrasies of human culture and language, but between his complete lack of understanding of the nuances of a language he seemed quite fluent in and his penchant for bowing to Crysta’s will, he came across as a bit of a pushover, and maybe even a little air-headed. Also, despite his proclivity for speaking Gaelic, we never actually heard him even hint at using his professed favorite language. Outside of the two main characters, we barely saw any other characters in the story, and the ones we did see (Crysta and Jareth), didn’t seem well developed.

That being said, I did enjoy the story, and despite the flaws, I found with the characters, I did end up liking them both. It was hard not to enjoy their relationship. The world building, though not heavily delved into, was interesting, and I especially liked the plot. Overall, it was a quick, fun, read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a shorter story that isn’t too heavy or gritty with its world building. It’d make a great sunny afternoon read for someone looking to while away a few hours. I do wish the book had been developed a bit more, and I think if it had been, the book probably would have easily made a full-length novel, but for what it is, I found it entertaining and enjoyable.