Book Review: Ignition

review-cover-ignitionTitle: Ignition [The Escaping Demons Saga 2]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Life has never been easy for Jasmine Johnstone, but failing for Nathan Stevenson brings a whole new level of difficulty. Since she arrived at his home he’s blown hot and cold with her, turned against her and revealed a deadly threat. He is sworn to kill her, and fights against his love for her more than ever, but he knows he can’t live without her.

As they run from monsters, and each other, can their love survive?

Time begins to run out and with new friends and enemies in the strangest places, will they learn who to trust in time?

With their love stronger than ever, but forces pulling them apart, is love enough to keep them together or will Nathan’s parents succeed in pulling them apart?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was a mess. Yes, a mess—and I’m being generous. I had some hopes after the first book that maybe this book would be better. Maybe the author would explain things, maybe Nate would somehow beautifully and tragically save Jasmine as to redeem their relationship in some matter. Anything… but what I got was an even bigger tangle of absurdity than with the first book.

The book was littered with typos. Missing words, improper grammar, misspellings, omitted words, even lack of clarifying punctuation. There were too many mistakes for a book that had a professional editor. On the plus side, the writing, for the most part, remained clear despite these problems and flowed along reasonably well.

My biggest problem with this book was the egregious amount of plot holes, obvious plot devices, contradictory phrases, and just the plain absurdity of what the characters were saying, doing, or thinking at any time. I literally broke down into hysterical laughter after about the 15th time the male demon love interest, Nate, shed a tear and Jasmine noted that she’d never seen him break down and cry before. REALLY? I cracked up laughing and exclaimed “Where have you been? He never stops crying!” Nate was constantly sobbing, breaking down into tears, or shedding a tear over everything. Their relationship was in a never ending loop that went something like this: “Baby, I love you more than anything, more than my life!” “I hate you. I never loved you.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was protecting you! I love you! Please forgive me!” repeat ad infinitum. I lost track of how many times this cycle of love/hate repeated itself, but it was painfully predictable.

Also painfully predictable, was the number of times Jasmine tripped, fell into something, or got a head injury. The girl should have serious brain damage. More worrisome perhaps, was the author’s penchant for softening the blow of all the tensest moments by going meta and explaining what was about to happen. “I didn’t know then that…” became a common theme.

As the book wore on the writing got more and more absurd. Bits of information were thrown in to move the plot along that reasonably, the main character should have never known. She somehow learned magic and how to identify wild herbs out of nowhere when it was needed, even though she’d been orphaned and in the foster care system since she was little. When she needed to drive, it mentioned that she had taken a few driving lessons a few months before. When? When did this happen? She’d been living in the demon household for over a year at that point, and I really can’t imagine that they let her out to take driving lessons. She suddenly identified a witch trap even though until that moment, witches had never been mentioned in the books. She identified an obscure Japanese mythological creature by name even though she didn’t know they existed until that moment. It never ended. Things kept getting introduced into the story, and suddenly Jasmine knew what they were or how to deal with them “although she didn’t know how she knew”—and that was the best explanation we got.

At one point, we were even introduced to the fact that Jasmine had a little brother and sister… (which were never mentioned in the first book), that she somehow forgot existed. Soak that in.

Frankly, the book was badly written and a bit ridiculous. The romance between the two main characters was abusive—full of lies and physical abuse—and every opportunity Jasmine had to get away, she quickly went back on before the page was even over. She was constantly playing the victim, and it got to be both irritating, and after awhile, sickening to read. I honestly don’t understand how this book got so many 4 and 5-star reviews because it’s probably one of the most infuriating and repetitive books I’ve ever read. This is not something I would recommend. Period.

Book Review: Luminosity

review-cover-luminosityTitle: Luminosity [Escaping Demons Saga 1]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Jasmine Johnstone’s life was relatively normal until she was forced to live with the Stevenson family. As she stayed she found she had no choice but to battle mythical creatures. Strengths she never knew she possessed began to surface, surprising those around her. Her only chance of surviving the rising tide of evil was Nathan Stevenson. Could she really trust him as he fought against his love for her? With the world against them and time running out, would their love be enough to defeat demons?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about Luminosity by Stacy McWilliams. I liked it. The plot was a somewhat new idea, I was curious as to what was happening, and for a few short hours, I was thoroughly entertained—but that doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a good book.

The book was riddled with typos—and I mean a lot of them. There were missing words, spelling problems, even words that were used in the wrong context. Although the writing was fairly clear and easy to read, the plot left me baffled. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on and there were no explanations forthcoming. The “romance” between Nathan and Jasmine was painfully contrived and woefully neglected for the first half of the book. It felt like I spent the majority of the book watching this poor, orphaned kid getting smacked around by basically everyone she met.I lost count of how many head injuries she received, but I’d bet you it was over half a dozen—and she barely stuck up for herself, tried to run away, or otherwise defended herself in any manner. She never even actively tried to figure out what was going on around her, even though she knew something very strange and very bad was definitely going down. Jasmine was a punching bag.

So why did I like it? I’m not sure. I guess I liked it because I keep hoping that there’s going to be more explanation. I keep hoping Nathan’s going to do something risky and beautiful to save Jasmine’s life. It’s all hope. I’m going to keep reading the series, and who knows? Maybe something will be explained in the second book. This definitely isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something different and dark, and you have a high tolerance for confusion, you may be interested in this book. Just be aware that this one needs a high trigger warning for people who’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse. It’s going to make you mad.

Book Review: Depths of Lake

review-cover-depths of lakeTitle: Depths of Lake [The McCain Saga #3]

Author: Keary Taylor

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It was another day at the ranch, training horses and working fifteen hour days. And then the last person I ever expected showed up. Lake McCain: a Marine, tall, ripped—and the best friend of my dead fiancé. Cal died to save Lake, and now Lake claims that he carries a debt to me that he can never repay.

I wanted to brush him off. But then my mom, the manager of the ranch, went and hired him. We spend hours working together with the horses. Lake doesn’t say much. He’s layered and dark and he tries to seem shallow and simple. But he isn’t. There are things under his surface that matter. He works, quiet and strong, and never once lets me down.

Until he confesses that he may be falling in love with me. I can’t deny that there is something between us. But a relationship? I just can’t. I’ve used up all my chances at love. My past relationships have ended in death or disaster, and now I have to live with all of that.

I’m Riley James, and there are depths to Lake—depths to myself—that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Although this was an endearing, sweet romance, the style in which it was written made it a less than engaging read for me.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. It was grammatically correct, well punctuated, and with the exception of one glaring typo where a word was omitted, it was generally well edited overall. The problem for me lay in the flow of the narrative.

Riley’s voice was written in a very detached, often abruptly structured way that felt almost robotic at times. She lacked warmth and it made it hard to follow her point of view at times. I didn’t have a problem with her personality—on the contrary, I quite liked her—but still, it wasn’t always easy to follow her narrative, especially near the beginning and ending of the book.

Despite this flaw, I enjoyed the book for the most part. The characters, though not overly deep, were sweet and likeable. The setting was strong, and the romance seemed natural. I liked it. It wasn’t perfect—it lacked some of the engaging quality I’d expected, but it wasn’t a bad book. I’d recommend it as a light weekend read for anyone who might enjoy a contemporary romance between two broken protagonists.

Book Review: Breathless

cover-breathlessTitle: Breathless [Blue Fire Saga 1]

Author: Scott Prussing

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: College freshman Leesa Nyland has been fascinated by vampires since she was three years old. That’s when her mom started acting weird, refusing to go outside during the day and insisting the sunlight hurt her skin because she had been bitten by a one-fanged vampire…

But fascinated doesn’t mean Leesa believes—any more than she believes in blue fire, people who live for centuries, and kisses that can kill. When her beloved older brother suddenly disappears, she is forced to confront all these and more.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really wanted to like this book. The cover was gorgeous, the writing was clear, and easy to follow… and the author obviously took their time to really explore the lore and world-building behind this series.  It had a down-to-earth but intriguing plot. Unfortunately, the characters had the depth of a half-mopped spill. Their actions in this story were so utterly unbelievable that I was actually angry by the time I finished the book.

It’s not that I didn’t like the characters. I found Leesa’s shyness endearing. Stefan and Rave were a gorgeous mix of masculinity, kindness, and brooding predator. Even Leesa’s almost-non-existent friends had great personalities… but that’s pretty much as far as they went. There was no back-story to any of the characters except to mention Leesa’s part-vampire mother, and we rarely even saw her in the story. Most of the narrative consisted of Leesa going to class, hanging out in her dorm room with friends, or awkwardly wandering around campus.  It was mostly mundane tasks and conversations and very little action, intrigue, or suspense… which… given the plot, should have been present.

The most infuriating part of this story, however, was the wishy-washy nature of all the characters… and complete lack of common sense.  Vampires, Volkaane… all the immortal beings were perfectly fine divulging all of their secrets to the human populace despite the fact they frequently talked about how they wanted to stay under the radar.  It was a good thing though – because Leesa couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She told all of her friends, her family, even the enemy of her “boyfriend” everything there was to know about everyone else’s business. She couldn’t keep a secret to save her life–not that anyone seemed to mind. Also, despite the fact that Rave and Stefan were supposedly mortal enemies (though it was never explained why), Leesa was magically able to tell them to quit fighting… and they listened. Suddenly everyone was behaving as though they had no choice. Hello? These two immortal beings are centuries older than this shy little mouse of a college student, but they were both willing to do whatever she asked.  In fact, by the time I was half-way through the story, the two men were so completely smitten with her they were more than willing to marry her.

W. T. F.

Between her selfishness, stupidity, and inability to keep her mouth shut… I just couldn’t understand the appeal.

Another oddity was that despite the fact that these two immortal species were supposed to be “secret”, the minute Leesa informed everyone (and I do mean everyone) that they existed… no one questioned her. Everyone took it at face value and went “oh.. okay. cool!”  and we’re not just talking about her close friends; I’m talking friends, family, even her teacher. No one questioned it. No one thought she was crazy, no one seemed to be frightened either. How does this happen? I’m still trying to understand.  There was a complete lack of any sort of tension or mystery to this story. Everyone… got along in a sort-of saturday morning cartoon way, and the one or two “fights” that were presented were easily dissolved away once Leesa stepped into the middle of them. She’s like a magic tranquilizer in human form.

The frustrating part of it was that there were so many instances where tension and conflict could have been introduced. I would have killed to have Edwina show up and harass Leesa, or to have seen the Volkaane lead an assault against the Vampire coven. They never did. Rave wouldn’t even fight to keep Leesa. At the final moment when Leesa revealed her plan to sacrifice herself for her brother, he pretty much stepped aside and agreed with her. He didn’t try to stop her or rescue her… there were no daring plans to steal her brother back.  The ending was wrapped up in a shiny little perfect bow, and no one got hurt, or angry, or swore retaliation. Nothing.

I am completely baffled.

The one truly redeeming feature of the story was the lore/world building. It was obvious the author had taken a lot of time to research vampire lore and adapt it to their own unique version. The concept of the Volkaane was interesting and unique (though now that I think about it, the moodus noises never were explained…), and a bit of a neat twist on the usual immortal beings we find in these kinds of stories. The only area that lacked in their development was an explanation of WHY the Volkaane fought the Vampires at all. I knew they hunted the vamps, but never why. The vampires didn’t seem all that evil to me. A total of.. what… 3 people were murdered during the entire book? Considering their food source and the circumstances they were in… I’d consider that pretty damn nice of them.

In the end, I just couldn’t enjoy the story. It wasn’t a bad idea for a novel, and there were certain aspects of it that were done very well, but in the end the execution was more of a “limp rag” than a “taunt bowstring”. It lacked any sense of immediacy, action, tension, or suspense. The pieces fell into place easily and without effort… to the point that the narrative became mundane and unfulfilling. Would I recommend it? No. I don’t think I would. If I had one way to sum up how ill-written this book was, it would be to quote the first line of chapter 33:

“It was a dark and stormy night.”