Book Review: Alpha Kaden

cover-review-Alpha KadenTitle: Alpha Kaden [Alpha 2]

Author: Midika Crane

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves

Rating: 3 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Alpha Kaden by Midika Crane. From the synopsis, I assumed this was going to be a very dark romance tinged with bits of insanity–which is something I don’t often read, but I do find fascinating… but that isn’t really what I found. In fact, let’s be clear: the synopsis is incredibly misleading.

There were definite elements of darkness and insanity to the story (and a whole lot of romance) but not in the way I expected–and I’m not sure how I feel about that. At first, the romance between Kaden and Mara was everything it promised. There was this element of darkness and insanity that made the situation between the two lovers sultry and taboo…but then part way through the book there is a twist (and not a bad one at that!) that completely changes how we readers see Alpha Kaden.

Without giving too much away, he went from being this bad-ass, devilishly charismatic man… to being, well… kind of a wimp. On the one hand, I understand why the author changed his personality mid-way through, but on the other hand, I don’t think it was the best way to handle the situation. Kaden is an Alpha… just because the twist happened, doesn’t mean he stops being an Alpha. Frankly, I liked him before the twist a lot better than after. Mara didn’t agree with me apparently. She went from hating this man beyond words to falling madly in love with him n the course of a page—which was annoying, to say the least.

That being said, the chemistry between the characters was steamy, and everything you want from a romance once you get past the initial shock and confusion. The world building was interesting, the characters, though maybe a bit shallow, were compelling enough to carry the story. The writing itself was easy to read and flowed well. I just wish the Alpha hadn’t become such a Beta. It felt rushed and sloppy the way it was handled.

If you like paranormal romances with suspense and werewolves, you’ll probably enjoy Alpha Kaden. Despite its flaws, it was entertaining and definitely worth reading, but this isn’t going to be one of those books that you re-read over and over.

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Book Review: Moonlight

review-cover-moonlightTitle: Moonlight [Moonkind Series 2]

Author: Ines Johnson

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Werewolves, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

You can never go home again…

Viviane Veracruz is on her way home from university with a degree in one hand…and a baby in her belly. Desperate to escape the judgement of her family, she accepts a sexy stranger’s offer to pose as the father for a few days. The plan is for him to run off leaving her family none the wiser. But the longer Pierce Alcede stays, the more she can’t let him go.

Home is where the heart is…

Pierce Alcede has finally come to terms with the fact that he is a lone wolf, prone to roam the wilderness alone and never settle down with a family of his own. When he meets a pregnant woman in need, he thinks nothing of stepping in to take the brunt of her family’s ire. But somewhere between working on the Veracruz Ranch by day and climbing into Viviane’s bed at night, Pierce forgets to run away.
Can a woman searching for a place to belong find a home with a man who lives to roam?

Moonlight is the second in a paranormal romance series full of alpha men and the strong, capable women that bend them to their knees. If you like a touch of magic in your romance novels, then you’ll love the witches, fairies, and wolves in the dystopian world of the moonkind.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Moonlight by Ines Johnson was nothing like I expected. I’ve read many werewolf themed books over the years, but this one genuinely surprised me. It was interesting to see a plot where werewolves not only had a new lore behind them but to also have werewolves generally accepted in everyday life by humans. It was something I’ve seen done in many vampire novels, but not in one about werewolves.

The main Couple, Pierce, and Viviane were endearing, steamy, and unsure in their budding relationship, and I thoroughly enjoyed both characters immensely.

Editing wise, I ran into one or two typos, but nothing so obvious as to pull me out of the narrative. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet werewolf romance with some pretty unique characters and lore.

Book Review: Life and Death

review-cover-life and deathTitle: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined [Twilight 5]

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Because I couldn’t find a good synopsis anywhere, let me give it to you as it is: This is Twilight, re-written as a giant gender swap. Bella is now Beau. Edward is now Edythe, and though there are a few changes to the story (mostly to avoid having to write a sequel, I’m sure—this is basically the same story. If you don’t know what Twilight was about, you live under a rock and probably won’t read this review anyway.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I picked up Life and Death almost as soon as I heard that it existed. Let me pause for a moment to preface this review by saying: I’m not a huge Twilight fan. I don’t have a problem with the teenage angst or the love triangle—theoretically, the young adult paranormal romance should be right up my alley—but, Bella and Edward just weren’t for me. She was a painfully weak character, and he was kind of stalkerish. The writing itself (or more importantly, the editing) was awful. The movie series wasn’t much better—mostly because the characters seemed to lack any personality on the big screen. On the other hand, the story was still entertaining, so yes, I read all the books. I watched all the movies. And I understand that some people are going to hate me for these statements. That’s okay. To each his own.

So, when Life and Death came out, I was curious. Would it improve upon Twilight? The answer is both a yes, and a no. Editing wise, Life and Death was better written. There were fewer typos, less flowery awkward sentences, less teenage in-head drama. I appreciated that. And, since the stories were very similar (though not identical) it was kind of interesting to see what changes were made and how they changed the story. I liked that. Unfortunately, that isn’t where my review ends.

Had I never read Twilight, had I never had the comparison between the two books, I don’t know that I would have liked Life and Death as a stand alone, untried book. I mean, sure… it’s interesting to see the genders swapped and how that affected the sheer number of female characters present in the book… because there was a definite increase. But did I like any of the characters more? No. In fact, I think I liked some of them less. Most of the characters seemed obviously secondary and faded into the background a lot more than in the original telling of the story.

The funny thing is, at the very beginning of the book, the author made a note to point out how one of her most-complained about things in Twilight is how weak Bella is as a character, and one of the reasons she wanted to do a gender swap was to show that had Bella been male, the character would still hold up. Except… I think it backfired. Beau has to be one of the most infuriatingly weak male characters I’ve ever read about. He makes Bella seem strong. He’s carried around, ordered around, basically does whatever Edythe asks him to do… and doesn’t stand up for himself. Like Edward, Edythe invades his room for months, treats him kind of like crap, and he just shrugs and continues on if it’s normal. In fact, it seems to be a running theme that everything just kind of rolls off Beau like droplets off a duck’s back. He didn’t have a lot of personality, and it was kind of frustrating to watch him go along with everything like nothing was a big deal.

I did like some of the changes made to the story. It was great to not have to spend a ton of time with Jacob’s fem ego, Jules. Her character felt kind of superfluous. It was nice to see Charlie in the same familiar role he’s always held as Bella/Beau’s dad. I like that the book ended differently than the original and didn’t drag on into several more installments. I like that Beau didn’t seem as shy as Bella, and I liked that there were more female roles in the story. Also, the book was well edited—I only found one obvious typo.

So where does this book stand with me? Overall, it’s a “meh.” I’m glad I read it, I certainly liked parts of it much more than Twilight… but was it a good book? Not particularly. There were still a lot of problems with the story (mostly, the character’s lack of personality). This felt too much like a ploy to keep the series relevant without having to actually write something new.

If you liked the original series, I’d encourage you to pick this one up if for no other reason that to get a second chance at the story in a new and strange perspective. If you didn’t like the original, you probably won’t like this one much either. It’s a novelty, but I don’t think it’s something I’d actually encourage people to read and enjoy like any other book.

Book Review: Beast

cover-beastTitle: Beast [Norseton Wolves 1]

Author: Holley Trent

Genre: Paranormal (Werewolves), Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Novella

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Christina Stilton has waited all her life to become a wolf’s bride. Becoming mate to a stranger in a faraway pack is the only chance she has to escape her Appalachian life of poverty and abuse. She wants safety, but trusts The Fates to steer her toward love, too.

Love is the last thing on Anton Denis’s mind. He doesn’t want to saddle some hopeful woman to him. A brutal fight left him scarred and half blind. He’s a mercenary who can’t drive, can’t shoot straight, and on most days, can’t even crack a smile. He fully intends to send his mate away—to give her a chance at being matched to some stronger wolf—but stubborn Christina is intent on staying.

She might have been treated as a useless female back in Virginia, but her role in Anton’s small pack is clear. He needs to be loved and loved hard, and she’s just the woman for the job. She just needs to convince him to get out of her way and let her do it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to give Beast by Holley Trent the benefit of the doubt. I’m not generally a fan of novellas; I prefer to sink deeply into my novels and not come up for air for several hours, and that just isn’t something I can do with shorter books. They tend to feel rushed and incomplete. That wasn’t so with Beast, however.

Despite being a novella, the pacing was spot on. I never felt like I was missing part of the story, that the details were being skimmed over, or that I was being rushed. The writing too was clear and easy to follow, and with the exception of one typo, well-written. The world building was a fresh take on the werewolf lore, and a welcome change in a theme that’s been recycled over and over in the past few years.

I liked Christina and Anton as a couple. They contrasted and complimented each other in a way that I found endearing and fun to follow along. My only major point of contention was that neither were very strong characters. Anton was plagued with self-doubt that lead him to verbally put himself down on a regular basis—and it wasn’t a very attractive feature of his. I almost would have preferred that he be standoffish or outright mean. Christina, on the other hand, despite purportedly being regularly abused throughout her life, ended up being the stronger, more domineering of the couple. She was a bit of a spitfire (which I love in my female protagonists)—but it didn’t seem to fit with her backstory, which lead to her earlier abuse seeming to be more of a needless plot device to drum up sympathy for the diminutive girl.

Overall, I liked the novella. It wasn’t typical of what I normally read, but the chemistry was steamy, the character were interesting, and despite a few weak points where the characters were involved, I can genuinely say that I liked it. If you’re looking for a short, fun erotic/romance read that isn’t too vulgar, this would be a good pick for you.

Book Review: Tranquility

 

review-cover-tranquility

Title: Tranquility [Otherkin 2]

Author: Anya Bast

Genre: Novella, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Were-Wolves, Erotica

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Roane leaves the Fury werewolf pack to make room for his brother, Merrick, and his new mate. A natural alpha, there’s nowhere Roane can go in wolf country and not stir up trouble. He settles in a town called Tranquility and immediately raises the hackles of the local pack leader.

Even worse, Roane gets one look at Scarlet, the pack leader’s sister, and will do anything to possess her. Scarlet tries to resist him, but his touch inflames desire she can barely control. And that means heaps of trouble for both of them.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I almost gave this 4 stars. For a novella, it’s a decent read—and if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll realize how hard it is for me to say that. I don’t like novellas. They tend to be rushed as a whole, and because I like to sink into books and not come up for air, this makes it very hard for me to enjoy them. I did enjoy this story—but it certainly had some issues I need to point out.

First of all, the premise is a good one. This is a story of an alpha werewolf, Roane, who has no desire to be the alpha of a pack. Being an all around good guy, when it came down to leading his home pack or giving the pack over to his brother, he stepped aside. (A point which endeared him to me fairly quickly) From there the story tumbles along as Roane attempts to join a new pack, and quickly finds himself being pushed around by the pack’s leader, Marcus, who wants nothing to do with another alpha in his territory-even if Roane assures him that he’s not interested in taking over. The trouble begins when Roane finds himself attracted to Marcus’ sister, Scarlet. You can imagine how well that went over.

The storyline, though familiar, was done fairly well. I liked Roane as a character, and the world building was easy to sink into. Unfortunately, the execution left a little to be desired. This book was plagued with misspelled/missing words and incomplete sentences. It was sadly in need of a good editor, and coming from an author that reportedly has quite a few books under her belt, it was disappointing to see so little care taken in editing the book.

The narrative itself was quick-paced and an easy read. There was just the right balance of detail, action, and dialogue—which for a novella, is fairly rare. Unfortunately, the characters lacked consistency. One minute Roane and Scarlet were lusting after each other, and the next they were professing their undying love. The switch between the two was instantaneous and I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t genuine.

Marcus too seemed to have a split personality. At the beginning of the story he seemed like a decent brother. He went looking for help from his sister, and being his sister, she agreed (against her better instincts). I thought to myself: this shows loyalty. They must be really close. A short while later, Marcus was abusing his sister physically and acting like a spiteful, nasty person. I was surprised at his sudden change of character, and again, I couldn’t help but feel that this aspect of the story no longer seemed believable. I can understand a brother getting frustrated and angry with his sister because of her betrayal. I can even understand that he’d want to, or even have to punish her… but this wasn’t just frustration and anger. It felt malicious and evil. I don’t think the author maintained the character’s integrity as she should have.

Another thing that stuck out to me was the cheesy, and downright crude dialogue. The story started out all right, but as things progressed into the romance aspect of the relationship between Roane and Scarlet, the dialogue became extremely crude, and Roane slipped into cheesy cliché lines, calling scarlet “baby” and “little one” and repeated all the things he wanted to do to her. It made me roll my eyes. Look, I know that this sort of thing is much more common in erotica where the goal of the sexy bits is to tickle the reader’s fancy (literally), and sometimes that’s accomplished through dirty talk in the sexy bits, but when the bedroom language is so vastly different than the normal dialogue, it just comes across as cheesy and trashy.

That being said, the sex scenes were steamy, but there was a slight undertone of aggression that wasn’t all together pleasant. I can deal with the growling, the biting, even the hair yanking, but generally you want to avoid scenes in a romance/erotica where a guy repeatedly “forces” a girl’s legs apart. I’m just saying: Nudging is a word that exists.

Overall? It wasn’t a bad read. I liked 80% of it. Some things, like the voice/personality of the narrative were done exceptionally well. Other things, like the abrupt changes in character personality and lack of editing, made it obvious that more time should have been spent ironing out this draft of the novella. Would I read it again? Sure. My overall feelings toward the story were that I liked it. Would I recommend it to others? Maybe. I think if the story were ironed out a little more it would be a better read, but it’s decent enough to waste half an hour on as is, and it’s free on Amazon.

P.S. There is an annoying lack of paragraph breaks when POV/Time/Location shifts occur. It’s still pretty easy to pick out when these shifts occur—I never felt lost—but they are somewhat irritating. You were forewarned.

Book Review: City of Bones

 

cover-CityofBones

Title: City of Bones [The Mortal Instruments 1]

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Action & Adventure

Rating: 5 (4.5)

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Description/Synopsis: When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder commited by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons–and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

First of all, great cover. Second, it was about time I got into this series. I avoided all the hype when the books first came out and started to become popular, but when the movie came out, I felt it was finally time I look into what the hype was all about. The first thing I did was watch the movie, which was pretty good – if a little all-over-the-place at times. Having enjoyed it, I jumped right into the first book, and without delay, subsequently finished all five.

Honestly, overall, and I’ll probably repeat this when I review the other four—I enjoyed the novel series a lot more than the movie. It, (like most book series), felt more complete and put-together. The plot made more sense, and there were a lot of little moments (like Simon being turned into a Rat) that didn’t make the cut into the movie, but seemed to suit the books just fine.

Like most YA novels, it had it’s moments of unnecessary drama (that’s just how teenagers are), but overall the writing was clear, concise, and fast-paced. I never found myself shaking my head at the narrative or skimming bits. I didn’t feel the need to throw things at the characters (okay, maybe at Simon), and although Clary sometimes did really stupid, dangerous things, I didn’t get annoyed at her character like I do with some YA heroine’s.

I think overall, if you liked the movie even remotely, you should give this book (and the entire series) a chance. The characters were a lot more personable in the book vs. the movie, and their motives, a little easier to understand. Jace especially was easier to connect to in this version of the story, though I think Clary possibly lost a bit of her coolness-factor. Simon still irritates me, but no surprise there. Anyways, it was a good book and I’d recommend it to any YA (or even adult) reader. The entire series is age appropriate for anyone 13+. A little later in the series (towards the last two books) there are some racier bits if you’re considering gifting this series to your teen, but the author was very careful not to go into great detail of any sexual/romantic encounter even that late in the series, and I’d certainly feel comfortable recommending it to anyone 13+ who enjoys paranormal fantasy. The world-building was a nice mix of fantasy/paranormal that leaned a bit towards the grittier side, with conniving not-so-nice fairies, vampires, werewolves, demons, and avenging angels.

The –only- reason this book got a 4.5 rating from me rather than a full 5 stars, was because a little later in the series (the last two books in particular) the story gets even better. This wasn’t my favorite book in the series, but it was still a good read. Take a chance, pick up a copy today. This one’s going on my keeper shelf.