Book Review: Mind Waves

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

Author: Amanda Uhl

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

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: Love Beyond Reason

cover-review-love beyond reasonTitle: Love Beyond Reason [Morna’s Legacy 2]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

It all started with a spell.

Arran Conall lives with the consequences of his foolishness daily, his mistakes guiding him into darkness. He had no way to know that his beloved would fall prey to the ancient magic that awaited Blaire on the day he’d sent her away to marry his brother. Now, the only woman to ever give pause to his philandering ways lives centuries ahead of him, out of reach while still holding on to his heart. Now, he must try to live a life without her and marries another to save the lass from a greedy suitor who only wants to lay title to her father’s territory.

His love for Blaire haunts him. With every breath, he prays only one thing “” that she will be able to feel his love for her across the chasms of time.

Born in the seventeenth century, Blaire MacChristy lives each day trying to adjust to the challenges of modern-day life. Magic brought her here, but heartbreak keeps her from using the magic to travel back to her home. When visitors from her past arrive asking her to return to the life she’d known before, Blaire takes a chance on love. Once home, she is shocked to learn that the man she loves has married another. Will fate find a way to mend their broken hearts by bringing them together once again? Even if it does, will they be able to stop the darkness that is coming for them both?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Ah, yet another addition to the Morna’s Legacy series. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to discover that the second book in the series revolved around Arran and Blaire, and their complicated and often tragic love story. I fell in love with the two characters during the first installment to the series and was excited to delve into their story.

Technically speaking, the story was well written. The narrative moved along at a steady pace, was easy to read, and engaging. There weren’t any noticeable typo’s or punctuation problems, nor any awkward sentences or grammatical foibles to stumble over. I was sucked into the story right away and felt compelled to find out what would happen to the characters as I read. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Like the first book, however, the story wasn’t without it’s problems. Though a little slower paced that the first book, the plot was far more complicated. Problems seemed to be thrown at the various characters right and left—dire problems that should not have easily been overcome… unfortunately, they were usually fixed with little trouble. Many of the issues that arose for the characters were resolved almost before they knew about the problems to begin with, or very easily thereafter. It seemed like fate and luck were on their side, and because of it, it was hard to believe that there was any real danger of the characters not getting their happy ending. I really wished that the tension had been dragged out a little more, and the almost insurmountable problems hadn’t been so easily solved.

I can’t complain too much, though. Despite the all-too-easy way the plot was handled, I did enjoy the story. The characters have evolved and begun to develop more since the first book in the series, and the author stayed true to their voices. Overall, I’m glad I picked up the book. Despite it’s negatives, I feel the positives far outshine them. I’m interested to see how the series progresses in the next few books.

Book Review: Love Beyond Time

review-cover-love beyond timeTitle: Love Beyond Time [Morna’s Legacy 1]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Romance, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

It began nearly four hundred years ago. The Conall clan and all their people were murdered in a surprise attack, their beloved castle and all evidence of who destroyed them burned to the ground with their bodies. In the centuries following, archaeologists searched through the ruins looking for any evidence of what or who had caused the untimely demise of such a powerful Scottish clan. All efforts were fruitless, until a spell put in place by an ancient Conall ancestor finally began to work its magic…

Texas kindergarten teacher, Brielle Montgomery, finds comfort in the mundane routines of her life, but when her archaeologist mother asks her to accompany her on a dig in Scotland, she decides to step out of her comfort zone. Once in Scotland, they discover a secret spell room below the castle ruins, and Bri finds herself transported back in time and suddenly married to the castle’s ill-fated Laird. Now, she must work to change the fate of his people, all while trying to find a way to return to her home and century. But with each passing day, Bri finds herself falling more deeply in love with her new husband. If she can find a spell to bring her home, will she use it? And if she stays, will it ultimately mean her own death as well?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed Love Beyond Time by Bethany Claire. Having never read this particular author’s work before, I was curious to pick up the first book in the Morna’s Legacy series to see what all the fuss was about—and I wasn’t disappointed.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. I didn’t stumble across any misspelled words, awkward sentences, incorrect punctuation or grammatical errors. The pace was a bit fast for my liking, but not egregiously so, and I found myself easily slipping into the story from the beginning. The writing was engaging and clean and read like a polished Harlequin romance… for better or worse.

I liked the characters, especially poor Brielle (love her name), who found herself sucked into the past and did her best to make an impossible situation as pleasant as possible—even if she had to delude herself a little to accomplish the feat. However, I’ll admit that there was a certain lack of depth to some of the characters that left me with some doubts.

To be clear, I really enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t without it’s problems. The book was almost a little too formulaic. There was a certain lack of complexity to the characters, a lack of grittiness to the world Brielle was thrust into that made it seem as if things were perhaps going a little too easily for the heroine. Situations arose where the solutions just seemed to pop up on their own before things got too tense, and after awhile, I felt that it sucked some of the interest out of the story for me. The quick pace of the writing contributed to the problem, making it seem as if maybe some of the world building and character development had been left out in lieu of moving the story along as quickly as possible. It wasn’t bad… but I think it could have been better.

Overall, I liked the story, the characters, the plot, even the writing. Was it the best I’ve read? No. I wish there had been a little more to it… but it’s still a good book, and I’m glad to have read it. I think people who read typical formulaic Harlequin-esque romance literature will appreciate the story a lot more than the typical fantasy reader, but I’d urge you to give it a try if you like time travel romances.

Book Review: The Hitchhiker Strain Box Set

cover58140-mediumTitle: The Hitchhiker Strain Series Box Set

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genres: Horror (Zombies), Fantasy, Young Adult, Anthology

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description:

END DAYZ

It’s month after the dead first began to walk. The miracle vaccine that was supposed to save us all has failed.

Now, four teens fight to stay alive as a stronger, smarter breed of zombie begins to appear, threatening to end humanity for good.

MORTALITY

After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.
Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

DUALITY

The end of everything came quickly, but the road back is endless and full of heartbreak.

After months of only death and loss, Veritas may be the answer everyone has been searching for—a cure. Savannah wants nothing more than to begin rebuilding, but with both the Initiative and the United Militia vying for power, there are no easy answers. Ending the threat for good could mean becoming something far worse than the monsters she is fighting against.

The infected will not go quietly. For Chelsea, the choice to step back into the world of the living is anything but simple. No miracle can erase the memories of the things she saw or the people she killed. While the girl she was struggles against the beast she became, Chelsea must make a choice—succumb or fight.

This Box Set Includes:

Review:

This is hands down, one of the best zombie-based book series I’ve had the privilege to read. The Hitchhiker Strain Series revolves around a small group of teens that are trying to survive the post-zombie infection world. It is a tale of lost futures, lost families, and lost innocence. The stories are told from multiple viewpoints and over a series of months between the first sign of an epidemic, and a year later when the world has collapsed and the first signs of a cure are starting to surface. The books are filled with clean, YA romance (though that is by far not one of the main themes), action, adventure, mystery, and horror.

The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and very human in the way they are written—imperfect, fallible, and struggling to come to terms with the way the world has changed. The real strength of this series, however, is the way the zombies were portrayed, and the way the author used their viewpoints to show the struggle for humanity that everyone—zombies and survivors alike—had to deal with. One of my favorite moments in this series revolved around the heartbreakingly tragic moment when I sat back and tried to imagine what it would be like to be one of the second generation zombies. I sympathized with Chelsea and Zarah more than almost any other character in the series.

The writing itself was beautifully done. The narrative was engaging, clear, easy to follow, and fast paced. I never got bored or confused, and there were very few technical errors.

Overall, I loved the series. I am so incredibly glad I read it, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a good YA Zombie-based series. This box set is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Graduation Day

review-cover-graduation day

Title: Graduation Day [The Testing 3]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say about this book that wasn’t said with the previous two? Not a lot. As always, the main character, Cia, is a brilliant young lady with a strong moral compass (or she was, but we’ll get to that). As far as the technical side of things go, the writing was spot-on. There were no noticeable grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and the narrative moved at a decent pace (although things were a bit slower in this third installment to the Testing series).

To be honest, I liked the book… I love the series… but this wasn’t the strongest edition to the trilogy. The pace was quite a bit slower this time around and there were a few instances were Cia was so overwhelmed with what was going on around her that her brilliance got a little lost. She made a lot of stupid mistakes in this book. She made some moral choices that probably could have been handled better, and she put her trust in people she probably shouldn’t have. That doesn’t make me love Cia any less as a heroine, but it did make it harder to enjoy her story. I couldn’t help but feel that the core of her character got a little lost.

Also, I’d like to point out that up until the very end of this series (and though I didn’t notice it until I looked back at the series as a whole) a lot of world building was left out. It is never explained why the testing process is so harsh or why it was allowed to continue on in this manner. Life isn’t great in Cia’s world, but I didn’t see anything truly startling (past part of the first book) that indicated any reason why the Testing needed to be as harsh as it was. The world building felt a little empty by the end of the trilogy, and I really wish the author would have delved further into it. There was also a lack of cohesiveness about it. For instance, the characters have all kinds of tiny technology that is being used to track them throughout the series, yet basic infrastructure in the cities is falling apart. The whole place, even the school, is a crumbling mess. Where is this technology coming from? The world Cia lives in feels so insular when you get down to it. Every book in the series is basically the same process of Cia being tested and throw together with the same rag-tag group of kids (though their allegiances are all over the place.. you never know how to trust). The settings are small and confined.

Another gripe I had with this book in particular, is that the ending didn’t feel finished. The accomplishments Cia and her friends made in this series were small, and we don’t see a lot of pay off (outside of them staying alive). We don’t have a chance to see the government be overturned, or the testing truly stopped. We don’t really get to see Cia go home to her family. It feels like there should be another book… and there isn’t.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I love Cia as a character, and I was interested to see the new ways she was challenged throughout the series, but if you’re looking for a satisfying conclusion, or a fast-paced battle of intelligence and will (as with the previous two books) you’re probably going to be disappointed. In my opinion, this is probably the weakest link in the Testing series.

Walker acquires new Cassandra Clare trilogy | The Bookseller

Walker Books has acquired the UK, Australian, New Zealand and export rights to The Last Hours, a new Shadowhunters trilogy from Cassandra Clare, for a “significant” six-figure sum.

Fiction publisher Gill Evans acquired the rights from from Heather Baror Shapiro and Danny Baror at Baror International.

The new trilogy, set in Edwardian London and fin de siècle Paris, will be published by Walker in 2017.

Walker is also the UK publisher of Clare’s bestselling series The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments. The final book in the Mortal Instruments, City of Heavenly Fire, will hit the shelves on 27th May.

“Cassandra Clare is our bestselling fiction author of 2013,” said Evans. “This acquisition is a real accolade to the massive success we have had. We are thrilled that we shall be publishing Cassandra for many years to come.”

Clare’s books have sold 654,059 copies through Nielsen BookScan, to a value of £4,264,733.

via Walker acquires new Cassandra Clare trilogy | The Bookseller.

What does this mean?

A new series from Cassandra Clare! Definitely something to cheer about.

Book Review: Into the Fire

cover-intothefire

Title: Into The Fire [The Ending 2]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh, Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

buy4._V192207739_.gif

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Description/Synopsis:

In the wake of destruction left behind by the Virus, it took Dani and Zoe months to find each other. But their reunion was short-lived. Dani has been taken, and though little distance separates them, they might as well be worlds apart.
From the moment she hears Dani’s scream, Zoe’s only goal is to save her best friend. She and her companions scramble to come up with a rescue plan, but when a ghost from Jake’s past reappears, lines are blurred, decisions become harder, and secrets are revealed…and some secrets are best left buried. To keep heartache and fear from consuming her, Zoe must cling to her determination. She WILL see Dani again.
Dani awakens inside the final hold-out of civilization: the Colony. Remnants of the former world surround her—electricity, safety, social order—but all is not what it seems. As she faces her most manipulative adversary yet, she loses sight of who she is and who she can trust. Friends become enemies, enemies become allies, and allies will betray her. Dani will have to decide what she’s willing to do and whose lives she’s willing to risk if she is to have any chance of breaking free.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Another solid cover and solid book from Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Fairleigh. It’s been some months since I read and reviewed the first book of The Ending series, but when I was given a chance to take a look at the sequel, I jumped at the chance. Like it’s predecessor, Into the Fire didn’t disappoint.

The story at it’s heart is about two friends, Dani and Zoe, as they both try to survive the apocalypse with their band of supernaturally-powered refugees. Unfortunately, not only do these two girls have to survive the day-to-day of living in a post-apocalyptic world with no electricity or running water, but there are also crazy cannibalistic creatures, roving bands of thugs and bandits… some with their own unique powers, and last, but not least, so-called scientists and officials who think it’s their god-given duty to experiment on the survivors in an attempt to make a perfect society. These girls have it rough.

Personally, going into this story, it was a little bit of a difficult read. Not because the story was ill-written or slow-paced, but because it had been such a long time in between the books for me (I read them both before they were officially released), it became a push in the first few chapters to remember what had happened in the previous book, and catch up to the story. Which is the main reason I marked this story down to 4 stars rather than 5. Though this is an obvious sequel, and I was warned before-hand that this was not a stand-alone book, I do hold a firm belief that even in a series, there should be some re-telling to help ease readers into subsequent books in a series. This installment to the series, had no re-telling what-so-ever. Books are generally released with large (sometimes a year or more) gap between them, and if you’re like me and you read several books a week, it’s easy to lose track of where you were in a series during that down-time. It would have been nice to have a few hints here and there to remind me of where I left off.

Still, by the third or fourth chapter (minus some momentary lapses where I couldn’t remember who certain characters were), I fell back into the story like clock-work. The book was well-written, fast paced, and the characters were genuine. Before I realized it, I was done, and wishing there were just a few more chapters to enjoy. Alas, I’ll have to wait for the next one. My only true negative complaint, or rather, I’ll call it an observation, was that while present, the romance really took a back-seat in this installment of the story.  I certainly wouldn’t place this firmly in the romance category (I’d tag it as an action/adventure this time around), but there’s still some tidbits in there for people who enjoyed the romance from the first book—Just don’t get your hopes up and skim for the sexual tension.

Overall? I’d recommend it to anyone who liked the first book of the series. It was a fun, action-packed read, and it didn’t let me down. If you enjoy Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi adventures, you’ll probably like this book, and love the series.