After reading Halo, and not enjoying it all that much, I was hesitant about picking up Ghost House. Ultimately, my love for ghost stories decided for me, and I gave it a shot. I wasn’t dissapointed. The story is engaging, it has some original elements, the writing has improved from the Halo series, and characterization was slightly better as well. It still won’t land on my list of favorite books, but it’s a great improvement from the author’s first series.
That said, the book lacks passion. Anyone could’ve written it. The characters are bland and boring. Life-altering events, like the death of Chloe’s mom, are completely glossed over. Why should she feel pain over what happened to her mom when she has a new guy to swoon about? Yeah, right. The plot is uninspired. A girl loses her mother, moves into a large house with her grandmother, and starts seeing ghosts. She falls ofr a ghost named Alexander, and that brings about the rage of his former lover, Isobel.
Grange Hall is lifeless and dull, which is not what would be expected of a haunted mansion. It seems to be a reflection of the personalities of the characters. Chloe is a cardboard figure without real emotions. Alexander is your standard mysterious hero hiding secrets. The antagonist is as one-dimensional as the other characters, and her motives are never truly explained, or how she became such a powerful spirit.
Chloe is judgemental, dull, and has as much chemistry with Alexander as she has with a bed, a chair, or anything else. Which means: nada.
Also, I fail to grasp why Isobel gets all the blame. Why is it right that Alexander blames her for something that happened to her, and something she has no control over? For those of you who read the book, was this just as mind-blowing to you as it was to me? Isobel is another victim, not some evil tyrant. Makes no sense whatsoever. Why is she supposedly to blame for everything?
The book ended up being a dissapointment. The idea was good, but the plot failed halfway through, and the characters lacked depth.(less)
At This Stage is a crossover between a YA and NA novel. Jackson Wall, twenty-three, obviously falls in the new adult category. So far he’s lived life without a single obligation. But when the daughter of a deceased friend of his is threatened with foster care, he volunteers to become her guardian. This shocks everyone, even himself, but once he volunteered, there’s no way back.
Kaitlyn, seventeen-years-old (the young adult in the book) has just lost her mother, and is struggling to come to terms with that, when she gets taken in by Jackson. He’s always been a friend of the family, but lately, Kaitlyn has begun to notice how handsome he is, and how charming. Living together proves to be challenging for both of them, as they soon realize they begin to develop feelings they’ve never expeirenced before.
Jackson feels guilty and disgusted with himself for feeling this way. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn grows convinced she must search for her biological father and find out why he never wanted her, and Jackson struggles with his job as a playwright.
The dialogue is realistic, and the romance develops steadily – it’s definitely no insta-love. The romance is subtle, like most of the book, and the characters’ emotions feel realistic too. The writing is great, and very polished for a debut author.
I’m looking forward to reading more books by K.K. Weil, be it a sequel to At This Stage, or something else. An author to watch out for.(less)
When I read Carol’s first book, Finding Amy, I really enjoyed it, and had no idea that I would enjoy the next book by this author even more. Saving Jamie is a thrilling, suspenseful read where things aren’t always what they seem, and with romance hiding just behind the corner.
Jamie is a great protagonist. She showed personality, courage, and sometimes a dash of stubbornness. Her life is in danger, and she’s traumatized by fear, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find out the truth, and trying to unlock the secrets she’s hidden in her mind. I liked Rex too – he was sweet, caring, reliable, but also firm and confident.
The book was a quick read – it’s over three hundred pages, but it feels much shorter. All the characters are well-developed, and each of them has a distinct personality. Jamie was my favorite character though, since we get to spend most time with her.
Recommended to all fans of romantic suspense.(less)
Talk about chills. I’ve always been intriguing by the dissapearance of the population of Roanoke, so I had to pick up this book about the mystery, and let’s say I wasn’t dissapointed. I liked the dynamics between the two main characters. They had some definite chemistry, and it’s not insta-love, so that’s great too.(less)
In The Hexed, a murder takes place that is an almost exact replica of another murder that took place thirteen years ago. Craig Rockwell, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, was the one who discovered the first body, a friend of his. He can hear voices of the deceased, and that’s what brings him to the Krewe of Hunters, and what got him to find his dead friend in the first place.
Devin Lyle has returned to the Salem area just when a woman gets murdered nearby the cabin she inherited from her great-aunt. She’s an author who writes about the witch trials, and witches in general. When Devin is being led to a third body, and there’s some connection to the Salem witch trials and the murders, she can’t help but get involved.
The two “detectives” unravel clues from the past. The friends of Craig’s past are questioned, and old friendships are tested. Add in ghosts, and I’m sold.
At least, I thought I’d be. And the plot is pretty decent, I’ll give you that. I liked the tie-in between the witch trials, the murders and the ghost. I wasn’t too fond of the characters though – both Craig (or Rocky, as he calls himself) and Devin are paper-thin characters, with no real personality. Whatever personality they do have, never develops throughout the book. The writing wasn’t spectacular either, but it was good enough.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, and particularly that it focused less on romance, and more on plot.(less)
Denim & Diamonds is currently FREE on Amazon from August 4 – August 7, 2014. Get your copy now!
Denim & Diamonds starts out strong, by introducing us to main character Beth Jameson, who I liked right away. She’s an attorney who inherits a ranch from her estranged father when he passes away. She knows nothing about horses, but if she isn’t successful in the first year, then she’ll lose all of her inheritance.
Luckily, she gets some help from Beau, the handsome ranch foreman, who worked alongside her father. But Beau suspects she’s just in it for the money, not for the long haul, and he has little patience for the stuck up city girl. And if she fails, then he gets to have the ranch for himself – so the stakes are high.
Beth, from her side, needs to learn to rely on others and trust them, instead of doing everything herself. If they both want this partnership to work, they’ll need to learn to work together and trust each other.
The writing is great, and the characters are complex and intriguing. I especially liked Beth – she’s a strong woman, who can stand up for herself, and who won’t take crap from anyone. While the plot isn’t that original, it is engaging, and the characters make the book worthwile. A solid read for fans of romance and women’s fiction.(less)
I wasn’t certain about this book when I read the synopsis, but the book was an enjoyable read after all. The writing was okay, and the plot was enjoyable. I liked the whole voodoo cult part. The characters could’ve been better developed though.(less)
In Sex and Sensibility, Tommy Fraser used to have it all – an exciting past with lots of different women, a beautiful wife who he sees as his soulmate, and a vibrant life ahead of him. That is, until he’s confronted with the dianogises of a life-threatening illness.
His wife, Cathy, supports him all the way, even accompanying him to hospital visits. But the more uncertain his future becomes, the more Tommy reflects upon his past life, a life before Cathy, a life spent with lots of different women. Right at that moment it looks like his past is about to catch up on him.
The book is well-written, and the characters have distinct, refreshing personalities. Tommy was a fun character to read about, and Cathy had a strong personality. She was like a beacon in the darkness, a beacon for Tommy to hold on to. She never gave up, and she kept on going, no matter what.
A solid book with an interesting perspective.(less)
I had no idea this was the third book in a series. However, even though not reading book one and two, I wasn’t completely lost, and I got the hang of the story almost right away. This book is filled with original elements, and a great plot. I enjoyed the characters, but sometimes the plot got away from me, and some parts seem to go nowhere. A decent read, but could’ve been better.(less)
Francesca of Lost Nation is a coming-of-age story set in a small town. We have two main characters: Sarah, a granddaughter, ten years old, who is spending the summer with her grandma while her parents are away. Francesca, Sarah’s grandmother, who gets to know her granddaughter better than she thought possible while she reveals her own history, her past, and all the things she went through when she was younger, while having some adventures with her granddaughter as well, from truck driving to finding lost dogs and even encountering an arsonist.
The writing is great, and both characters stand out and shine. I loved Francesca though, her determination and how she didn’t care about what others thought, but just did what she thought was best. This book was a quick read, but I loved it from start to end. A great coming-of-age story.(less)
Auraria offers an intriguing blend of folklore, paranormal, history and even some facts, since it takes inspiration from a real Georgian ghost town, and the folklore of the Southern Appalachians. A whimsical, fun experience, with captivating writing. The main character borders on being one-dimensional though, which was a letdown, but overall, I enjoyed it.(less)
Rachel and Jacob get married young, and immediately, that poses a series of problems, like still having to finish school, not having all your family members agree on the wedding, and so on. But Rachel and Jacob manage to pull through it all, through the hardships of life as a married couple. But then Rachel finds out Jacob is hiding something, a huge secret everyone seems to know about, except her. Like that’s not bad enough, she receives a series of mysterious phone calls, and someone seems out to hurt Jacob. What the heck is going on?
First Comes Love, Then Comes… is an entertaining read that offers a different perspective on marriage, love, and all the problems it poses. The story has a few fun, unexpected twists, and both Rachel and Jacob are easy characters to relate to.
If you want an enjoyable, quick read, and you like contemporary romance, then don’t forget about this book.(less)
I love Heather Graham’s books, so of course I requested a review copy of “The Cursed“. While I did like the book, I felt like it was missing something, some of the originality I found in the other, previous books in the Krewe of Hunters series.
Hannah O’Brien, one of the main characters, owns and runs a Bed and Breakfast in Key West. The B&B is situated in a Victorian mansion she inherited from her great uncle. The mansion is haunted by a variety of ghosts, all of them friendly. Hannah sees the ghosts and communicates with them. But when a man is murdered in the B&B, and his spirit shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find out who murdered him, she learns there’s more to seeing spirits than she hoped for. When she finds herself in danger, FBI agent Dallas Samson must come to her rescue. Mix mystery, suspense, a smuggling ring, romance and ghosts in one package, and you’ve got the plot for this book.
It’s interesting, sure, and the combo smuggling ring, FBI, and ghosts, is still intriguing, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe the plot just didn’t sound intriguing enough. What was interesting, however, was the setting for the book, and the rich history of Key West. Heather Graham never ceases to amaze me with how much she knows about history, and how adequately she pours this knowledge into her books.
The writing, as usual, was great, and the characters… I certainly found Dallas entertaining, but Hannah came across as a little bland.
Either way, The Cursed is a solid paranormal mystery read with a large dose of romance. It’s a good book if you’re a fan of Heather Graham’s writing, and you don’t need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, as it can be read as a stand-alone.(less)
I have a soft spot for broken, tortured souls. Even from the moment I first encountered Aleksender de Lefèvre and Sofia Rose in The Frost of Springtime, I knew they’d be the kind of characters that would tickle my soft spot – and they are. Sofia was my favorite of both of them – she was so innocent, so pure, I could not help but like her. Alek is a more troubled character, less black-white, a lot more grey. In a way, this makes him more intriguing. I also liked how he fought his feelings for Sofia, there was a constant struggle going on, and Alek tried to deny his feelings constantly, which made for an interesting dynamic.
I kind of felt sorry for Elizabeth though, Alek’s wife. He didn’t love her, since they were married in an arranged marriage, but he didn’t wish her ill either. He just fell in love with another woman. This makes Alek a more troublesome character to understand – sometimes he acted arrogant and selfish toward his wife. He idolized Sofia, made her into the kind of woman she could never truly be, a goddess, a woman that isn’t real. And by turning her into that, no other woman could ever compete. It makes for interesting character development though.
The setting was France at the time of the Franco-Prussian war. I loved the setting, and found it very intriguing, and well-described. I could picture myself back in the Paris Commune of 1871, alongside the characters. While some might find there’s slightly too much hisotrical information, I didn’t mind – I like books in which I can learn a thing or two, even in fiction.
The Frost of Springtime offers a heart-breaking romance story in an intriguing historical setting with dynamic, interesting main characters. Ideal for fans of historical romance.(less)
The Book of Lost Fragrances is one of those rare reads that pulls you in from the first page, and keeps you at the edge of your seat until the end. M.J. Rose is a wonderful author, who has a real knack for storytelling, and for pulling the reader into the story. With beautiful, atmospheric descriptions, the author describes both settings and characters sublimely.
Jac is our main character. She’s always been haunted by the past. After her mother’s suicide she moves to America, leaving her parent’s perfume company into the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives, and then goes missing, Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind. She has to discover an ancient family secret, a perfume that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. With a large cast of side characters, and a journey through time, this book combines mystery, history, and romance into an intriguing read I fell in love with right away.
I also liked the premise of finding a scent powerful enough to stretch through time. Kind of reminded me of “Perfume”, the murder mystery novel about a serial killer obsessed with scent. I loved that one, and I loved The Book of Lost Fragrances as well. Guess I’m a perfume lover of sorts.
It’s hard to review books you loved, since there’s nothing I can find in this book that upset me, or that I thought could be improved. If anything, it was a tad too complicated at times, especially keeping characters apart. Some names were similar, and sometimes I had trouble linking names to characters. The whole: “who’s that again?” thing. Also, it started out a little slow.
But all in all, a wonderful, amazing read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to reading more books by this talented author!(less)
This Could Have Been Our Song! is a book filled with heartbreak, love, family traditions and values, and characters struggling to break free from the destiny their families have in mind for them.
Lucia Mpobo-Riddell chose music over dancing, unlike all the other women in her family. Marcus Grant chose music instead of becoming a doctor like the majority of his family members. Both of them are running away from choices they do not want to make, and both of them long for a future of their own. But with Marcus almost stealing Lucia’s job, and the both of them forced to worked together, which causes tension for just about everyone. When a former dance partner of Lucia, who happens to be one of her best friends, and who has a crush on her, shows up back into town, this adds a new layer to an already complicated situation. But Marcus has girl troubles too, in the form of Mary Gillis, his on and off flame who he still can’t let go. And then there’s Marcus and Lucia, and their undeniable attraction.
Surprisingly complicated for a romance novel, with tons of layers, intriguing family issues, and set in the world of music and dancing. I connected with Lucia from the first page. She’s determined, intelligent, brave, and she knows what she wants – at least, in terms of her career. Marcus was a lot more difficult to understand. I didn’t get the whole on-and-off again thing with Mary. Marcus also has a big ego, which luckily deflated somewhat toward the end of the book. He wouldn’t be my choice, but I understand what some people see in him.
Fluent writing, an interesting spin on known romance tropes, and intriguing characters. Recommended to fans of romance and women’s fiction.(less)
The Benighted is a dark read filled with mystery, dread and suspense. It’s set in a mythical, epic-fantasy world with princesses, knights, and the ancient battle between good and evil. With a set of characters so real they feel like you could walk up and talk to them, and a plot that doesn’t shy away to explore some of the darker sides of humanity, this is an interesting, enjoyable read.
Skylar, the princess of a fallen kingdom, daughter of a murdered king, is captured and imprisoned for helping the escape of Harlin Brien, the knight who was framed for the King’s murder. But Skylar is convinced of Harlin’s innocence, and she’s certain the king’s advisor, Cross Lutherus, is the real culprit behind the murders on the royal family.
When I read “princesses” and “knights”, I can’t help but think of an unimaginative, innocent fairytale that will have a happy ending you can see miles away. Princesses tend to be personality-less cardboard figures. Skylar…not at all. She has personality, wit, backbone, courage. What she goes through isn’t for the faint of heart, and even though she wants to give up several times, part of her always manages to cling on. This is the kind of princess I can root for.
The writing is haunting and descriptive, and the fantasy world A.M. Dunnewin conjures up, is definitely intriguing, but also dark and unsettling. An inspiring story for anyone who enjoys the darker side of fantasy.(less)
Violet and her brother Luke have lived in the crumbling mansion their grandmother nicknamed Citizen, based on the movie Citizen Kane, their entire lives. They know the sleepy town of Echo inside out. Their parents are both artists, travelling the world and leaving their children alone for months on end.
This time around though, money is getting sparse, and Violet had the great idea to put their guest post up for rent. The boy replying to the ad, River West, is an enigma. He hides a lot of secrets, manages to lie with a blank face, but at the same time, he’s charismatic and intriguing, and Violet falls for his charms before she even realizes it.
But with River West turning up, strange things start to happen as well. Her best friend sees an image of the local legend, a homeless man named Blue who supposedly lured children into an abandoned tunnel. Children witnessed a “devil” kidnapping another children, and they start to stalk the cemetery, armed with whatever they can find, in hopes of finding the devil and hurting him.
Violet grows more and more convinced River has something to do with this, and when he confesses to her he has powers he can barely understand himself, and he can’t control them either, she starts to fear him almost as much as she loves him.
This book is gothic horror through and through. Never that scary, but always atmospheric, and with an underlying layer of tension that’s difficult to describe. River is an interesting, dark, charismatic character who I had not choice but to like. He’s mysterious, and it’s that mystery that makes him as interesting for the reader as he is to Violet. I loved the Citizen, its long, meandering halls, its crumbling exterior, the many secrets it harbored inside. What gothic novel would be complete without a gigantic mansion? The kids living here on their own, although a bit strange and the explenation leaves much to be desired, makes it the ideal place for an adventure to start.
The writing was great, almost like a velvet layer that wrapped itself around the story and made it shine even more. The prose is haunting, the characters wrecked by their own past and choices, each of them flawed in more than one way.
Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea, is one of my favorite reads this year. A definite must read for fans of gothic horror.(less)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I started reading By My Choice, I was immediately impressed by the level of detail, and the quality of writing – two things you don’t often find in novellas. Jennifer, our main character, has spent her whole life in a court of vampires, mostly keeping count of the finances. But she barely resembles the girl her best friend met the first time he saw her. She barely smiles, she looks exhausted, something is definitely wrong with her. Seeing no other choice to save her, he sends her away to another vampire count.
Jennifer has no idea what’s going on, and so she feels furious at her best friend’s betrayal. But in her new home, Paris, she finds out that her life is in danger, and if she doesn’t let go of her own self-control and submit herself to her new vampire master, she’ll perish. But can Jennifer give up her own will and choice?
I’m not entirely fond of the whole “not having a choice” thing, but it actually fit the theme, mood, and setting of the story. I loved the erotic scenes toward the end, but I enjoyed the set up at the start just as much. The readers finds themselves emerged in a dark, unsettling paranormal world where vampires are the supreme masters, ruling over humans and other creatures alike. Jennifer is an interesting main character. At first, one is left wondering what’s going on with her, and when it was explained, I was impressed by how original the explenation was.
Add a solid plot, quality writing and a vast supernatural world in the mix, and you’ll understand why I enjoyed this book. I hope more books are in the works. Hopefully a novel next time. Meanwhile, if you like paranormal romance and don’t mind a few erotic scenes, pick up this book.(less)
I received a copy from this book in exchange for an honest review.
In Sins of the Fallen, Max’s life turns completely upside down when he and his best friend, Jones, go to a house party at Anthony’s place. The twin sisters they brought along on a date turn out to have less than noble intentions. One of them kidnaps Max, reveals she’s a succubus, and he’s somehow their target.
As his life is turned upside down, Max finds out things he never thought possible, not just about himself, but also about his family and friends. Nothing is as it seems.
Slowly, he finds out more about who he is, and why he’s that way. But the clock is ticking as demons pursue him, and target the people he loves…
I liked Sins of the Fallen mostly because for once, it shows us a book from the POV of a boy. And Max is very much a boy. He’s falls in love, he feels attracted to girls he shouldn’t, sometimes he doesn’t really think with his brain (if you know what I’m getting at) and he does stupid stuff, like dressing up like a girl at the start of the book. But in general, he’s a good kid.
There was plenty of action and a dash of romance. I’m sure young adult readers, especially boys, will enjoy this book.(less)
I loved “The Crossing Places”, so naturally, when I stumbled upon “The House at Sea’s End“, I have to give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed at all. While “The Crossing Places” intrigued me slightly more, Elly Griffiths delivers here again with strong, real characters, a gripping mystery, a fash of folklore and mythology, and a subtle romance that can’t be classified under one simple category.
When a team of archeologists discover six bodies at the foot of a cliff, Ruth Galloway is called to the scene to investigate, along with DCI Nelson, who is the father of her newborn daughter, Kate. Unfortunately though, Nelson is also still married to Michelle – which means he’s more of a nuisance to Ruth than anything else, because clearly she has feelings for him. Feelings he will probably never return…
As they investigate the mystery that has to do with the Germans invading Britain in World War II, two elderly men involved suddenly meet their end. At first, the police thinks it’s just an accident and coincedence, but that doesn’t last for long when they start connecting the dots.
While World War II history is, at least to me, nowhere near as intriguing as the ancient history handled in “The Crossing Places”, I still liked it. Ruth is an interesting main character, and for one weird reason. She’s a little dull, and nerdy. Kind of like Bonus, except maybe even more boring. But I like boring. Ordinary people don’t go around raiding tombs or having parties all night long when they have a newborn. Ruth is real. She’s a real person, with a real, sometimes dull, sometimes exciting life.
Another top character is of course, DCI Nelson. He’s completely unpredictable, and that’s what I love about him. He bounces from Michelle to Ruth and back, all the while not realizing what the heck he wants. And again – that’s real. Who would be able to decide between his wife (who he still loves) and the mother of his newborn daughter (who he kind of likes too) right away?
But what I love the most about this series, is how the romance very obviously takes the backseat for the story. The story is the meat, the romance just a side thought.
If you’re into mystery and suspense novels, Elly Griffith’s “Ruth Galloway” series should get a spot on your bookcase.(less)
The Emperor’s New Clothes is amazing. It’s so hilarious, imaginative, and refreshingly original that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. The main character, Royce Ree, has a sense of humor that completely matches my own.
Here’s an example from one of the first pages.
“Retrieval of what, agent?” asked the Spymaster, finally.
“Their impeccable sense of style, sir.”
“And yet…and yet what you actually brought me was their Royal Princess, intent upon marrying the Emperor.”
Royce didn’t dare shift his gaze from that perfectly neutral wall to look at the other occupant of the room.
“You also,” continued the Spymaster, “brought me half of Baldasshi’s parliament, six hundred Nova class battleships, and a menagerie of wild animals.”
“Psychic wild animals, sir,” ventured Royce.
Don’t tell me you can read that without even a hint of a smile, because I certainly can’t. Anyway, the book is filled with humoristic quirks like that, so I had a smile plastered on my face for most of my time reading. It’s also a very fast read. It was 328 pages in my .epub reader, but it went very fast. Now, back to the story.
Royce Ree is an imperial agent, who has a mission he can’t fail. Unfortunately, right at the start of it, he bumps into Les, the man he was once married to, and the last person he wanted to see. What happens next is of course, an argument, in the ventilation ducts of all places. They’re forced to work together, which means arguing more than cooperating for most of the time.
There were some minor flaws. The first was the ominipresent narrator. The book is told mostly from Royce’s POV, but every so often, the narrator jumps into Les’ mind, giving us his thoughts. Now, the omnipresent narrator (or whatever you want to call it, that’s the term my English teacher used in high school) isn’t always bad, but it’s not necessary here, and is actually a little confusing, because it doesn’t happen very often, almost like it happens without the author noticing.
Secondly, there are some typos. For example, on page 14 of my copy, right after the small introduction, there’s a sentence telling us where the characters are at (each chapter starts this way, which I don’t think is necessary either, it’s quite obvious where they are. It should only happen if we change perspective to other characters, not stick with the same ones) saying “Ventination Duct, Institute of Research and Development, Baldessh”. Which should actually be “Ventilation Duct”. Now, it’s no biggie, but the error glared at me from my screen because the words are bold and caps.
Anyway, those tiny annoyances didn’t really ruin anything. The plot was great, the characters were intriguing – I kind of want to invite Royce to every party I’m going to throw for the rest of my life, because he’s plain awesome – and the humor added an extra dimension to the story. The author is definitely very talented, and he’s crafted an imaginative, entertaining world, which I long to revisit. Please write more, and please hold on to that sense of humor.(less)
After her husband passes away, Amelia Weiss goes through the most difficult period in her life. Without Nathan, she’s lost, clueless of what to do next. Even getting out of bed in the morning is nearly impossible. Sculpting, which always brought her joy, reduces her to tears. The love of her life is gone, and she’s left alone to pick up the pieces.
Her son, Davi, leads his own life in the city with his fiance. Her relationship with her daughter Chloe is strained. They’ve never gotten along well, and Nathan always had to act as the middle man. But now he’s gone, and there’s no one left to reconcile them. Chloe makes an effort when she asks Amelia to come visit her in the city, revealing her pregnancy and marriage troubles to her mother, who tries to help her in every way possible.
As they slowly grow closer to each other, Amelia finds a new love for yoga and gets back in touch with her old love for astrology. She learns how to make new connections and rediscover who she is and who she wants to be. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll find love again.
This novel talks about a courageous woman, who’s heartbroken at first, and slowly learns to put herself together again. Missing pieces are replaced by new ones, old friends by new friends, and she becomes whole again. It’s a heartfelt novel, just in time for the holiday, about loss, sadness, grief, and never giving up, about being loved from beyond the grave and feeling that love in everything you do. About making a new life for yourself when your loved ones are taken away. Many times throughout reading, I was reduced to tears.
With good writing, solid characters, and a keen sense of detail, Twelve Houses is a novel that will appeal to many people. I thought, since the protagonist is so much older than I am, and the topic is rather sad at first, it wouldn’t appeal to me, but I found myself rooting for Amelia, her personal growth, every minor victory, and feeling for her as if she was a long lost relative. So even if you don’t think this might be for you, at first, it’s worth giving it a shot.(less)
The Muse was an interesting story, at times shocking and a little disturbing, at times romantic and sweet. Our main character, Elle, has just gotten out of an emotional abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Michael. He got famous painting her, and her nickname as a model is the “Archangel”, based on a series of portraits he did featuring her. However, she’s now gotten a job offering from Hex, an artist of the macabre, whose work is a stark contrast to work she usually posed for. Hex is Michael’s arch nemesis and greatest rival, and if he found out she was working for Hex, he’d be more annoyed than ever.
Meanwhile Elle arrives at Hex’s castle, which is occupied by other models and artists Hex likes to invite. She meets his brother, Alvarez, who is the rational mind to Hex’s near-hysteria. He takes care of the business side of things, makes arrangments, and in general does what’s best f or his family – Hex and his grandmother, who dabbels in an ancient religion involving spells, herbs and sometimes even blood rituals.
When people start showing up dead in and around the castle, Alvarez wants to find out what’s going on. He is afraid that Elle, who he’s had a crush on since the moment he met her, might be in danger as well. What starts is a race against time as the bodies begin piling up.
I liked Elle. She’d stepped out of an abusive relationship, and was now truly finding herself. She became stronger and more independent with every passing page. That’s why I wasn’t so fond of her relationship with Alvarez, and their growing attraction. He was another pillar for her to support upon, someone who’d have her back, while it seemed to me the most important thing for her was to learn to have her own back. Either way, she lacked personality, especially at the start, but it wasn’t a bad thing here. It genuinely seemed like she’d based most of her personality on who she was when she was with Michael, as if she could only have a personality reflected in his personality. At the start of the novel, she was lost, trying to find herself, and the only personality trait she had was being a movie buff. But as the story progressed, she gradually found herself, and discovered her own personality.
Hex was actually my favorite character. I’m a fan of the tormented artist as a protagonist, and he played the role well. Plus, the name. How can you be called Hex and not be amazingly awesome? Impossible, right?
The writing was decent, and the story flowed well. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t too pleased with the relationship between Elle and Alvarez. Not only did I feel like she should get to know herself first before jumping into another relationship, I also felt like their relationship progressed way too quickly. I’m not a fan of insta-love, or even anything close to that, so maybe that’s why. A few kisses I wouldn’t have minded, but the way Elle depended on Alvarez completely, and almost right away, that bothered me a little.
The mystery was great – I only figured it out toward the end, only a few pages before it’s revealed. The characters were great, the story was strong, and in general, I’d recommend this book to all fans of mystery romance novels.(less)
The plot of A Haunting in Trillium Falls wasn’t all that original, and the characters and writing fell a little flat. The title is a bit misleading, so if you’re going on expecting a ghost story or a horror novel, then you’ll be dissapointed. Instead, the reader is offered a mystery of sorts that borders on a little scary sometimes, but mostly sticks firm within the mystery genre. While I do think this could’ve been better emphasized in the synopsis, I didn’t mind that much.
Taylor, our main character, has just bought a supposed haunted mansion in town. She lives there with her grandfather, whose health is declining and occassionally goes through periods of depression. Her grandfather used to renovate houses, so she hopes he’ll rejoice in having to renovate this place, but nothing like that happens. Luckily she gets help of dashing Dillon Nash, a successful real estate developer who poses as a handyman to get closer to Taylor. Because of his success, women have been falling head over heels for him, and this time around he doesn’t want a woman who’s in it for the money. Hiding his true identity, he tries to help Taylor and her grandpa however he can.
After a while, eerie things start to happen in the house, and somehow these events seem connected to the locked-off tower room. Taylor begins to suspect the house is haunted, and someone wants them out of there. However, the answer may not be as simple as a random haunting.
Taylor was an okay character. I liked how she didn’t just fall for Dillon, even though he was charminbg and good-looking. What she did for her grandpa was very admirable, and the relationship between the two of them was what really made this book intriguing for me. It doesn’t happen often that we get to see these kind of family relationships in books, and it’s really well done here. Grandpa is grumpy sometimes, and he sure can nag, but in the end he wants what is best for his granddaughter, even if that means hiding how sick he feels, or telling her to move on with her life.
Dillon was all right. I didn’t like him posing as someone he wasn’t, or his obsession with people wanting him for his money, but apart from that he was an okay guy. A little too alpha for my tastes, especially when he told Taylor not to climb the ladder and then got mad. Not a smooth move, that one.
Either way, I liked the book, even though it was a clear-cut mystery to solve, and the romance was a little tame. That was actually a bonus, because the main characters definitely took the time to get to know each other before they dived into a relationship. It was an okay read, but nothing spectacular.(less)
Rosalyn Delaney moves to Whiskey Ridge, an old mining town to find her missing husband. She arrives at Rose House, a majestic old mansion with the reputation of being haunted. In Whiskey Ridge, she finds out the entire story of how her husband was killed by his business partner Whip Kincaid, and how the last is still listed as a wanted fugitive. But Rosalyn has the feeling more is going on than she realizes at first glance. What she doesn’t know however, is that Whip Kincaid has been hiding in his own house, Rose House, the mansion she just moved into. At night he sneaks out to investigate, and when he finds out his mansion is occupied by this strange but elusive woman, the first thing he wants to do is scare her away. But Rose doesn’t scare easily, and when she’s not phased by his continuous attempts to scare her, Whip is intrigued. The more he learns about her, the more he realizes he may not want her out of his life after all.
This was a delightful, interesting, well-written book. I’ve always been a fan of gothic novels, and with Rosalyn moving into the large, supposedly “haunted” mansion reminded me of the many gothic novels I devoured as a kid. The novel keeps on this vibe for some time, but it’s primarily a western historical romance. What I loved the most however was the mystery behind the murder, who was responsible, the long-kept secrets, and of course, the haunting. This all added up to an amazing story, and the romance was almost unnecessary – the book had already a lot of potential. The romance was really the top of the cake though.
Lots of tension, nail-biting moments and some spoilers I didn’t see coming. The Scent of Roses is a delightful mix of romance, mystery, historical fiction and suspense.(less)
Carmen is a Magistrate in the dystopian sociedty of London in the future. With elements of the Victorian era sipping through, this dystopian world is one of the most amazing settings I’ve had the pleasure to read about. It’s like steampunk, sort of, except dystopian, and set in the future. So it’s not entirely steampunk, and I’m glad it isn’t – the book is far more original and intriguing this way. Magistrates uphold the law whenever technology fails to do so. They track down criminals and serve justice. Everyone detests Magistrates for upholding such a strict law, and sometimes even Carmen detests herself and what she has to do. When she grew up, she was as far away from being a Magistrate as humanly possible. She lived on the streets, was sold to a workhouse, and then ended up in the clutches of the most vile and cruel man in London. She narrowly escaped thanks to the Madam of a whorehouse, Lina, stepping in. Ever since, Carmen has owed Lina her life, but so much more.
Carmen has long lost touch with her rescuer, but when the corpse of a prostitute sends her to the whorehouse she grew up in, Carmen reconciles with Lina, and they both figure out the years haven’t changed all that much in regards to their feelings for each other. However, in this dystopian society having a gay relationship is strictly forbidden, and warning voices go out to Carmen to stay as far away from Lina as humanly possible. The problem is Carmen doesn’t know if that’s what she wants to do…And then, when another figure of her past resurfaces, and Lina ends up in the middle of all that, she doesn’t know if she can leave her anymore.
I loved the setting. The society Keira Michelle Telford creates in The Magistrate is rich in detail. It’s a layered society with rules hidden behind rules. Instead of an info dump, we only get the information slowly, until our views on the society are fully shaped at the end. Carmen is a complex, but enjoyable characters. She’s stuck playing a role she never signed up for, having to focus on being the person she never wanted to be, while hiding her sexual preferences for everyone around her.
To add a murder mystery to a world and story already so complex, is more than a little impressive. Carmen had me interested in her story, sure, but the murder mystery was what pulled me in completely. It’s not clear at first who is behind it, or what exactly is going on, and as the plot thickens, the suspense only continues to grow.
My only issue with this book, is its portrayal of male characters. It’s like every single man who appears in this book has to be an asshole or an idiot. While there’s a fair share of those out there, I doubt all men are like that, and the book gives a rather one-sided view on the male population. But like I said, that’s my only issue with the book.
The Magistrate is a well-written, detailed, complex story about a woman trying to figure out who she is in a society that tells her she can’t be the one person she wants to be.(less)
Prince Severin of Arcathia occassionally wanders into Oscia, in disguise, as not to upset the tentative peace after centuries of waging war against each other. He uses money he saved to buy slaves and set them free. This time, his eyes falls on Havyn, a young slave, who Severin decides to rescue. But Havyn isn’t an ordinary slave. With abilities far surpassing the ordinary, and traces of magic in his blood, plus a sharp tongue and a good amount of wit, he makes an excellent match for Severin, who has no interest in women or ever getting married, and would much prefer Havyn’s company. However, Severin doesn’t want to force the young man into something he may not entirely agree with, so he stays mute about his feelings.
When Severin and his travel companion, the royal wizard Ildar, leave to go back to Arcathia, it is decided that Havyn, with his magical aptitude, will become Ildar’s newest apprentice. However, this means it is the young man’s duty to stay chaste…Something that grows increasingly tougher the more time he spends with Severin. Relationships between princes and former slaves are highly frowned upon, naturally, but that doesn’t stop Severin and Havyn from longing for each other…
I was surprised by the depth of this story. At only 96 pages in .pdf format, it’s a quick, but intriguing read. The fantasy world we’re introduced to, with the neighbouring kingdoms of Oscia and Arcathia, is a vast, imaginative world, and well-explained, even in such a short time frame. We’re straightaway introduced to our main cast, and the relationships between the characters take shape rather quickly, but not too quick. I’m a fan of slow romance, the kind that builds gradually over time, starting with attraction and only over time developing in love. While there was definitely a build up here, I would have no problem if the build up had lasted longer.
The book started straight into the action though. Fantasy novels often start by rambling off the world’s history in the first few chapters, but this certainly didn’t happen here. The story is very character-driven, and it’s the characters who shine and make the book come alive. I preferred Severin over Havyn, but I liked both of them. Severin had a more serious attitude, which I preferred. His internal struggle was very well described, and I could easily relate to him.
Story-wise, I was hooked. This was a fast-paced, intriguing, romantic read.(less)
I’m slightly dissapointed in this series. I expected a lot going in, but didn’t get a whole lot in return. The book starts out promising enough. America Singer belongs to the Fifth caste, and she’s doomed to stay there for the rest of her life. Her family are artists, and they barely have enough food or money, except around Christmas holidays, the only holidays left. Her Mom wants her to participate in “The Selection”, a one-time only event in which thirty-five girls from all provinces randomly get chosen to participate in a program much like “The Bachelor”. One of them will get the crown, and will get to marry Prince Maxon, an eligible bachelor.
America started out as an interesting character. She was seeing Aspen, a member of caste six, even though it wasn’t allowed. She was headstrong and stubborn, and I liked her. But then, in a moment of pride, Aspen breaks up with her, America decides to join “The Selection”, and she turns into a stupid dimwit. She sees Prince Maxon and acts like a completely spoiled brat, but that gave her personality and some charm, so I decided to go with it. But then she, out of the blue, falls head over heels for the prince, although they agreed to be friends. It’s obvious Maxon is attracted to her from the get-go. I don’t like insta-love, so this was a major let-down for me.
There’s barely any world building. All right, so the world exists out of castes from one to eight, there’s a castle and a prince, and they get attacked by rebel groups. But what else? The answer is simple: nothing else. How does the world look like? Are there cities or towns? How are they grouped? Why are the rebels attacking? Nothing is explained at all. The world has no culture, social life, religion, nothing.
Maxon was all right at first, but quickly turned around. He’s awkward in the beginning, but then turns into a control-freak who thinks he’s superior just because he’s a prince. Ugh.
I’ll read the next book because I want to see how it ends, but I’m not as enthusiastic as I hoped I’d be. Hopefully America grows into a less-childish character and Maxon grows up to be more capable and interesting.(less)
The Elite started out even more irritating than The Selection. Instead of worldbuilding, we get thrown straight into the action, but there’s just not all that much action. America and Maxon go back and forth on their feelings toward each other, never truly expressing how they feel. America grows into an even shallower individual. She’s nice to her maids. Right. But she acts superior toward everyone else. So I don’t really buy it. I don’t buy half the stuff she says or does, because she’s simply too inconsistent. She never makes up her mind.
Maxon isn’t that great either. He’s boring and annoying, and he changes his mind every other minute as well. I started hating him halfway through the book, especially after what happened to Marlee. I’ve always liked Marlee – sometimes I wished she would’ve been the main character instead of America.
Storywise, not a lot happens. America and Maxon play a game of hot and cold, Aspen shows up at the palace, the girls still compete for Maxon’s affections and our dear prince doesn’t exactly stay monogamous. If I were America, I’d probably slap him, but hey, I would probably not fall for such a douchebag in the first place. Either way, Maxon doesn’t redeem herself and by the end, I’d wholeheartedly prefer Aspen over him.
I can’t really tell you the plot, because there’s barely any plot. There’s barely any character development. There’s barely anything. Either way, I enjoyed it enough to start reading, hence the somewhat-positive rating, which surprises me. It’s kind of like “The Bachelor”. The show is empty, there’s no spark, no story, but still you get hooked for an unexplainable reason.
I might pick up the third book to know how it ends, but I’m not enamored by the series at all.(less)