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: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

ImageTitle: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, YA Fiction

Rating: 4 (almost a 5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW

So, first thing’s first, I’m going to put forward the negatives of this story, or rather, what made me give this a 4 star rating rather than a 5 star. First off, going into it I found the writing a bit flowery. You get used to it fairly quickly, but there does seem to be a bit of needless description all throughout the book that’s there sole for the purpose of coloring the narrative. It’s not horribly obtrusive, but it did catch my eye in the beginning.

Second, for me at least, the book did drag in the second half. There was a lot of back-story and flashbacks involved that I didn’t find nearly as entertaining as the rest of the story. I believe that a good part of this may be attributed to the character we’re following around: Madrigal, who is part-beast. I don’t know what it is about having a character that’s not at least mostly-human looking that bothers me. Watching her romance with Akiva set me on edge. I guess I can call it the “human-factor”. I want my romance couples to at the very least, have a mostly-human appearance.. when you start swaying into animal-faces, I start to get a bit uncomfortable. (Shape shifters are fine, people with one animal feature… like wings, or a tail, or cat ears, etc don’t bother me..but leave the face alone.) It’s like watching a handsome guy make out with a goat. Creepy.

That being said, I did actually really like the book as a whole. The lore in this book and world-building is absolutely fantastic. The plot is complicated and incredibly engaging. The characters for the most part are interesting, but I will admit some of them were a little 2-dimensional. Though I really like Karou for the most part, and I LOVED Brimestone, a lot of the other chimaera characters, and all of the angels lacked any real substance. Many of them seemed to be present in the story only to make sure the plot was still moving and not to provide any real contribution. Even Akiva, the main male lead was rather single-minded throughout the story. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to his character as far as I could tell.

I think a lot of what I liked about this book was wrapped up in Karou and Brimestone’s relationship. They have this sort of standoffish love/hate thing going on that is so deep and beautiful – you can’t help but love these two tragic characters (even if that means I have to love Madrigal too). Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series. It WAS a really great read – but there was some parts that I found sub-par. I’d still recommend it to anyone who wants an intriguing fantasy read. Brimstone has become my favorite secondary character of all time now. If nothing else, read it for him.

Book Review: The Bane

ImageTitle: The Bane [Eden Trilogy 1]

Author: Keary Taylor

Genre: Sci-Fi, Futuristic Dystopian, YA

Rating: 4, nearly 5 Stars (I’ll explain)

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Description/Synopsis: Before the Evolution there was TorBane: technology that infused human DNA with cybernetic matter. It had the ability to grow new organs and limbs, to heal the world. Until it evolved out of control and spread like the common cold. The machine took over, the soul vanished, and the Bane were born. The Bane won’t stop until every last person has been infected. With less than two percent of the human population left, mankind is on the brink of extinction.

Eve knows the stories of the Evolution, the time before she wandered into the colony of Eden, unable to recall anything but her name. But she doesn’t need memories to know this world is her reality. This is a world that is quickly losing its humanity, one Bane at a time.

Fighting to keep one of the last remaining human colonies alive, Eve finds herself torn between her dedication to the colony, and the discovery of love. There is Avian and West – one a soldier, one a keeper of secrets. And in the end, Eve will make a choice that will change the future of mankind.

The Bane is The Terminator meets The Walking Dead with a heart-twisting romance.

Previously published as Eden, due to reader demand it has been revamped and rereleased as The Bane: book one in The Eden Trilogy.

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW

So, I received this novel for free on NetGalley with the promise to review it. Surprisingly, I didn’t realized until AFTER I’d read it that I recognized the author! The name sounded familiar but it was only after I’d gone back through my many archived reviews that I found out that Keary Taylor also authored another favorite series of mine (The Fall of Angels Series)!

That being said, I loved this book! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of anything dystopian, post-apocalyptic, or romance. I can’t get enough of it. Obviously, I devoured this book in a handful of hours and couldn’t seem to put it down. (At one point I was sitting on the floor next to an outlet so my kindle could charge because the battery died and I didn’t want to stop reading.)

When the story first started, I’ll admit that my first thoughts were “oh man.. this is really not connecting to me.” The main character seemed distant and the narrative was kind of stiff and disjointed. I pushed on, but it was probably nearly an entire chapter before I realized in an epiphany, that this weird style was an intended characterization and not due to poor writing.

When the story starts, the main character, Eve, (all though this doesn’t get explained till way later) has no emotions. She doesn’t understand human emotions at all… so when a friend dies, she really doesn’t know how to handle it. She sits a little off from the spectacle not really sure what to do or how she’s supposed to act.

It took me awhile, but eventually I came to really like her sort of off-kilter view of the world. Eve was tough, stubborn, and very practical in her views of the world. She was also brave, selfless, and … well… I guess a guardian to her group. As the plot wore on, and the people of Eve’s group of refugees/survivors battled the Bane (the cybernetic evil remains of what were once humans, taken over by nanobots and transformed into killing machines)… who reminded me of the Borg in a more mindless-drone sort of way, we discover that Eve was the first cybernetic person. She’s effectively a non-evil robot-person-hybrid.. and didn’t even know it. (Boy, I made that real clear, didn’t I?)

Of course, this brings up a whole host of issues not only for her group, but for herself. Imagine finding out that you’re basically a better version of the thing you hate/fear most in the world. That’ll certainly mess with a girl’s mind.  I thought the author did a fantastic job with the pacing and narrative throughout this book. I was pulled along from scene to scene and didn’t care – I was just hungry for more.

Now, the only reason this book didn’t get a whole 5 stars is this… (and I’m still giving it a tentative 4 nearly 5 rating.. ) I really disliked the ending. Forgive me if I pout, but I really wanted Eve to end up with West, her childhood friend, with whom she seemed to share a great amount of passion. *grumbles* Instead she ended up falling for Avian, who’s too old for her IMHO. I realize I’m just being whiny, but I was really cheering for West.

That aside, and on a more serious note, I did think the ending was wrapped up a little too cleanly. I think had the love triangle between West, Eve, and Avian not been cleared up at the end of the book (and maybe saved for the second) It would have been a stronger ending. I got so used to Eve waffling between the two and not really understanding her own emotions that when it got to the end and suddenly she knew who she loved, it felt a little forced. She went from no emotions to bubbly and dreaming of wedding dresses in just a few chapters and it felt like maybe it was moving a bit too fast.

That aside though, everything else about this book, I absolutely loved. I think the way the characters were portrayed in the narrative (especially Eve) was brilliant. The narrative was engaging and fast-paced, and the Bane as a “villain” of sorts was really entertaining. I think the synopsis was spot-on when it described this story as a mix between Terminator and The Walking Dead.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic Survival novels. Maybe not so much romance… it has romance, but I think a larger part of the story is about the struggles of the people living in this post-apocalyptic setting.. not necessarily the love triangle (though it certainly plays it’s part). It truly was a great read… and I’m probably only holding back that last star out of spite. Team West all the way baby.