Category Archives: Book Reviews

Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Title: A Certain Slant of Light
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source:  Public library
Pub. Year: 2005
Purchase: Amz/B&N/

Blurb from Amazon:

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified, but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

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Cover Love: Love it, the cover actually points towards an event in the book so it is beautiful and useful

I knew I love the book the moment I saw the cover but story within the pages cements my love for it. It is so haunting and lovely at the same time.

Helen makes a very compelling character; she loves literature so she clings to those who like literature. She needs to be attached to a living person so she can continue to exist in the world of the Quick (the living). The ghosts called themselves Light (if they aware that they are dead). It’s when Helen meets James that she begins to consider her needs. James is a Light inside of Billy (a recovering drug addict). James introduces Helen to the idea of possessing a body that a soul no longer wants. The possession of the bodies helped both of them move on with their lives and be somewhat happy for awhile.

Helen posses Jenny and has to deal with a super conservative Christian family while James posses a drug addict. By helping the lives of the individuals they are possessing, they are bringing closure to their own stories by remembering their memories of their final moments. They died with the belief that they were sinning and probably deserve their death but as the memories come back, they start to remember what really happened.

Helen as Jenny helps the family move on from their extremely closed minded view of the world. Helen makes a better world for Jenny to live in and tolerate. James as Billy struggles to make a better life for Billy because Billy was such a troublemaker. In the end, he manages to bring closure to his brother.

Normally, I have issues with books but I can’t find anything that would decrease the rating of this book. Some may take issue with the portrayal of Jenny’s family. The family is hardcore Christian so deeply religious. I don’t have a problem with it because the type of philosophy the family claimed is very true. It’s also very true that certain lifestyles do smother people and Whitcomb showed both sides of the equation. Billy had extreme freedom while Jenny’s freedom was restricted and they both were just drowning in misery. Hating their very existence that Billy and Jenny were glad to have someone else take over their lives because they couldn’t deal with their lives. The book is sad on some level because the possessed individuals are so young.

I love the ending, it is very Titanic like. Anyways, I really liked this book. I will be on the lookout for another book by this author because I like the story she told.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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71st in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Ghostly

Review: Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia

Title: Earrings of Ixtumea
Author: Kim Baccellia
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source: MuseItUp Publishing
Pub. Year:  2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ MP
I received a copy of this novel free of charge from MuseItUp Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Barnes & Nobles:
Fifteen-year-old Lupe Hernandez dismisses the legend about her Mexican grandmother’s magical earrings as a silly fairytale, despite recurring nightmares of human sacrifice. But when the earrings thrust her into the parallel world of Ixtumea, she must confront the very thing she shuns the most — her cultural heritage.

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Cover Love: Not my favorite.

This book would have been great if it had spent more time developing the background of the characters and showcasing their motivations.

Lupe, the main character, is probably the only character that is fully fleshed out while everybody else is one dimensional. Lupe has a wide range of emotions; she has strength and moments of weakness but mainly moments of hesitation. She is struggling with her social and cultural identity. Her battle is one that is very relatable to individuals who are a part of two worlds so she is interesting.  Unfortunately, Lupe never really grows into herself or has true faith in her abilities. Lupe remains the damsel in distress that needs to be rescue even though she shows moments of strength. I believe that Baccellia did this in order to showcase Concha’s motherly instinct towards the daughter (Lupe) that she abandoned. It is disappointing because we have a main character that should have become stronger as the book progresses but doesn’t. Lupe was a great character because she started to understand and embrace the world she is a part of but the surrounding cast just killed her. No other character stands out as well. There is Teancum who is supposed to be a great warrior but never shows it. Ixchel the Spider Goddess was beautiful but just there. Abish the Head Maiden is the caretaker but just there.

I love villains, they have complex reasoning (tragic background) for taking over the world but I couldn’t figure out Malvado ( love his name though). He is really one-dimensional in his desire to take over the world and what little we know about his background isn’t enough to make him a complex villain. Apparently, his father is from Lupe’s world but he is living in Ixtumea. It looks like at one point Malvado lived in Lupe’s world because he has modern bed sheets and he really likes them. The question is how did he get there and how did he become stuck in Ixtumea? I don’t have an answer because the book never explains it. How did he get involved with the Jaguar god? Another question with no answer.

One of the major problems that I have with the book is the story of Redemption for the mother of Lupe, Concha. It is just dragged out for 30 pages and it was annoying because the author pretty much points towards redemption the entire time but just prolongs it. There is also the fact that Baccellia never reveals how Concha betrayed Balam or how did Malvado convince Concha to betrayed her heritage. Yeah, she had a really bad incident (which I thought was raped but that is not it) but we never see how she met Malvado. I would’ve thought that was crucial to understanding why Concha turned to darkness and killed the father of her child. She is not repentant about her involvement in the death of Balam ( not that we get to know him since he is only mentioned in passing). Her redemption is just false to me and it is an attempt to bring a happy ending to the book (which is unnecessary). Her sacrifice is great but that alone cannot undue her betrayal, the abandonment of her daughter or her constant murderous thoughts (that is really secondary though).

This novel is just at the edge of being a great book and that is so frustrating. It has great mythology behind it. The Mesoamerican history hasn’t been used greatly in young adult books so it makes the book unique. It has a relatable main lead character in Lupe because cultural issues have always plague teenagers who are trying to fit in. The problem is that there is no background to the characters. Baccellia build a great world but the characters are just not there. Still, I did enjoy reading the book.

3 BB-Pretty to look at

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70th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, YA Mythology, Science Fiction

Review: Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 1 by Nobuhiro Watsuki

Title: Rurouni Kenshin
Author: Nobuhiro Watsuki
Series: Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 1
Genre: Manga
Format: Paperback
Source:  Public library
Pub. Year: 2003
Purchase: Amz/ B&N

Blurb from Amazon:

A hundred and fifty years ago in Kyoto, amid the flames of revolution, there arose a warrior, an assassin of such ferocious power he was given the title Hitokiri: Manslayer. With his bloodstained blade, Hitokiri Battosai helped close the turbulent Bakumatsu period and end the reign of the shoguns, slashing open the way toward the progressive Meiji Era.  Then he vanished, and with the flow of years became legend.

In the 11th year of Meiji, in the middle of Tokyo, the tale begins. Himura Kenshin, a humble rurouni, or wandering swordsman, comes to the aid of Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman struggling to defend her father’s school of swordsmanship against attacks by the infamous Hitokiri Battosai. But neither Kenshin nor Battosai are quite what they seem…

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To know: I’m writing the characters by their first name then last name instead of the Japanese way.

Rurouni Kenshin, what can I say about it except that I love it. I’ll admit that I watched the anime first (but that was such a long time ago that I don’t remember much of it).

Each chapter of the manga introduces a character so let’s meet them. Kenshin Himura, the protagonist, may come off as aloof and a little silly but he is not to be underestimated. He can be serious and he has interesting beliefs about what it means to have power and strength. Kaoru Kamiya is the first person Kenshin really befriends in the new town. They have a comedy-somewhat abusive relationship going on. It is funny because Kaoru has a temper that she is always unleashing on poor Kenshin. Yahiko  Myojin is the son of a former samurai and Yahiko now spends his time being a delinquent (reform delinquent). He has a good heart and likes to annoy Kaoru. Sanosuke Sangara is a man looking for a good fight and thinks Kenshin can deliver it.

The characters have a funny relationship because they are just ragging on each other (and mainly Kenshin). There are funny but rude (not really) comments to each other. Watsuki draws a lot of funny faces so the manga is quite a laugh at times. Kenshin does speak weird at times; he is always like “This one no longer fights” and he is referring to himself. He never really says “I” which always brings a smile to my face (cause it is not common to read that).

Plot wise, there isn’t a larger arc going on yet. It’s much more about the introduction of core characters. There are people interested in Kenshin because of his past as a Battosai. It doesn’t look like anyone is out for revenge but people are just bored so they want to fight Kenshin. Right now, it is Sanosuke who is interested in fighting Kenshin because he was hired to do so (and he would like a good fight). I’m interested in seeing how the battle progresses. Hopefully, a villain appears in the second book.

Art style, it was pretty good. Great use of solid lines. Nothing is really drawn lightly. Watching the anime, I knew Kenshin never really (but on occasion) drew blood from his opponents so I was a little confused by the fight scenes. Whenever a person is hit by the sword, it looks like blood is being spilled. Turns out, it represents the speed of the sword (I guess). It took a little to get used to but I’ll know for the the second volume.

I’m looking forward to picking the second volume in the series. The fight between Sanosuke and Kenshin should be good.

4.5 BB-Ready for capture, Total keeper

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69th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also classifies for: M/GN/VG, TV Addict,

Review: The Z Word by Bella Street

Title: The Z word
Author: Bella Street
Series: Apocalypse Babes # 1
Genre:  Science Fiction
Format: E-book
Source:  Giveaway
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ Smashwords
I won this book in a giveaway that was hosted by the author.

Blurb from Amazon:

The Z Word follows Seffy Carter and her longtime friends Gareth, Addison and Lani. The four besties share a past dysfunctional and dark enough to keep them bound together under do-over identities. But rends develop in their relationships from the flesh-eating pressures of ending up in 1980, in a Montana desert, surrounded by zombies wearing dated disco duds.

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Odd thoughts: No questions will be answered in this novel. Plus, it has weird slang.  Apparently, saying someone is “soup” is code for “crazy” or maybe it’s 80’s slang.

Another different take on the zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t really deal with the zombies. It focuses on shallow relationships and emphasizing secrets that are not going to be reveal right away. One reviewer on Amazon called the characters the Scooby-Doo gang. While I agree on some level with that reviewer, I feel the gang is more Victorious style. It was a decent book though.

Let’s talk characters. Seffy Carter, what a self-centered person to have for a main character. She was a hard person to like because she is only concerned with only herself and her attraction to Gareth. She barely cares for her friends, Addy (the redheaded bitch) and Lani (scatterbrained). She has no interest in being intelligent because she rejects anything nerdy or anything that hurts her image as Hollywood/ The Hills girl. It’s sort of disappointing because I’m all about female empowerment; Seffy does not have my vote. Addy may come of as a bitch (her reasoning for hating Seffy is not explained like Jade and Tori) but she can handle a gun. Something bad happened between them, can’t wait to find out what though. Lani is the Kat from Victorious or Luna from Harry Potter; random as hell and her logic doesn’t make sense most of the time. Even though Seffy is careless, there is something about her that I find intriguing and I can’t hate her for who she is. The reason is that on some level she is beginning to gain a consciousness about who she is and is slowly unwrapping her character. There is good potential in her character development.

Moving on to the guys in the book. Gareth is the one Seffy is interested. He has a nerdy side that Seffy tries very hard to suppress. Not sure what to make of him because he appears bi-polar when it comes to Seffy. He is willing to comfort her then pushes her away (without explanation) and finally, gets jealous when someone else is near her. Street likes bi-polar men because he reminds of a previous character she wrote. Gareth has potential as a lead male character but he is not that attractive. It’s like there is a shield around him. Trent is a survivor from another group and he is a jerk (so I liked him immediately, kidding). He has a very rough side but later comes out of his shell and is on friendlier terms with Seffy. The fact that Seffy distrusts Trent makes him character that much more appealing. Another appealing man is Fenn the Doctor who might be married but definitely is in a relationship with Fiona the Preppy Bitch Nurse. She is funny but this is the men’s section. There is this weird moment of flirtation between Seffy and Fenn that I just loved.

World-building wise, it is a closed book. There is no rational explanation behind the existence of the zombies. As readers, we end knowing how the zombies are being created but not why. It’s even weirder to have Russian mercenaries in Montana. It is true the Cold War is still going on in the book so that could be it. It looks like a dystopian setting but it doesn’t come out and spells it for the reader. I’m unsure if the United States has been conquered by zombies or not because Montana has reception for the television. I don’t think television rates that high in a post-apocalyptic world. For now, I’m saying dystopian because zombies are around.

This book is seriously closed lipped about everything. It doesn’t explain the time travel at all. It looks like Montana might be the only one affected by the zombies but I could be wrong. The gang shares a past but there is no in depth details as to how they know each other or what prompted them to make a pact to never speak of their past. Seffy and Addy have a love-mostly hate relationship but it is never explained why. Having read a previous book by Street, this is really surprising because she answered most of the questions that can arise from a reader. I realize this is the start of the series but not one bone was tossed to the reader.

Overall, it’s a zombie book but not Resident Evil style. Surprising but it is a little more mellow. There is an inexplicable glue binding the gang together and I’m looking forward to seeing what that it.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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68th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for Dystopia, Zombie, Science Fiction, First in a Series, E-book, Self-Published, Where are you reading?-Montana

Review: Dust by Devon Ashley

Title: Dust
Author: Devon Ashley
Series: Of Dust and Darkness # 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Coming Soon
I’ve received a copy of this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

 

 

 

Blurb from Goodreads

4. The number of times my delicate wings have been broken and clamped behind my back.
68. The number inked upon my skin, marking me the sixty-eighth pixie to be stolen.
87. The number of days I’ve been wrongfully imprisoned.
88. The first day the faeries will regret stealing me.

Healthy. Cheery. Vivacious. All traits Rosalie has before becoming enslaved by the faeries to make an endless supply of pixie dust. Now that Rosalie has been traumatized by slave labor, extreme desolate conditions and multiple deaths, this hardened pixie is anything but. When this rebellious teenager attempts an escape, she’s isolated in cramped quarters until she learns her place. Just as she begins to let go of all that hope, she finds an unlikely friend in Jack, the faerie assigned to guard her. Interspecies dating is forbidden in the fae world, so their growing attraction is unacceptable. And even if Jack can find a way to free her, they know the prison is the only place they can truly be together

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A good blurb is captivating but sometimes can give a wrong impression. The blurb of Dust pulls the reader in two different directions. The escalating numbers make it seem like the book is ready for a dark showdown of revenge. It makes the book seem dark and gritty and I was sort of expecting the book to maintain that dark tone…but it doesn’t. It doesn’t because the second half of the book is a love story just like the blurb mentions. The blurb is very true to the book. It’s dark and a love story. I was still expecting more dark themes because of the numbers though. It’s the word “Regret” that is drilled into me.

Character-wise, Rosalie was a fantastic main character. She is independent, a nature-loving girl, strong-willed and defiant. She doesn’t accept the circumstance of her kidnapping and attempts to be brave in the face of that.  Rosalie does have moments of weakness but that just make her character more realistic and stronger because she is dealing with harsh situations. Juniper, the eldest of the slaves, roots Rosalie in maintaining her strength and her desire to live.  Jack, her captive guardian, is a strong male lead. He comes off a bit snobbish but he has a decent heart and no stomach for torture. The relationship that builds between them builds over time and seems genuine. He treats her with respect after witnessing the breaking wings incident and shows he is a decent guy. Not just by taking care of her but looking for a legal way out for her. None of the villains are complex but the reason why could be that all the bad guys appear to be henchmen. No one has really claimed responsibility for the slave camp. Looking forward to seeing who is the antagonist of the series.

Being the first book in the series, there are questions that need to be answer such as what is the real reason faeries are kidnapping pixies and making them slaves? Jack says there is a belief about the superiority of fairies over pixies and that could be a factor as to why this is happening. The book focuses more on character development more than the background of the story so that could be a reason why the kidnapping are not explained or why the segregation of pixies and faeries is not either. It looks like there is some politics involve in the kidnappings but we will see just how deep they go. Hopefully the previous questions are answered in the second book and this one as well: Why did Rosalie’s Hollow (village) raised children as a communal effort instead of family effort? The other Hollows don’t raised their children like that.

I keep coming back to “88. The first day the faeries will regret kidnapping me.” I thought this phrase would define the book because it is just filled with anger and determination. It means there is punishment heading towards the faeries and there isn’t. Not in this novel at least. The illusion of a counter-attack is invested in that phrase and the dark themes as well. I’m almost wishing that phrase would disappear from the blurb because it makes the blurb (and the book) appears less menacing. Dust is more about the injustice done to Rosalie which is the 87 days phrase. 87 days and the love story make the book more tragic but hopeful. 88 days is revenge time. Amazing how one phrase can elicit a different tone for the entire book. Try it.

Having heard the playlist first, I found running themes that match the scenes in the book and the lyrics. “Missing” by Evanescence fits it so well, especially the part about Rosalie wondering if anyone is looking her (and in some way knowing that the answer is no). “Part of Me” by Katy Perry is another perfect fit for Rosalie because she is so resilient and so determine to survive. “We Found Love” by Rihanna and “Falls to Pieces” by Avril Lavigne are great songs that describe the blossoming romance between Rosalie and Jack.

Overall, it was a pretty mellow read. It reads like a diary because of the how the chapters are labeled. There is an emphasis on character development instead of world-building but it is a trilogy. There can’t be much world-building when the main character is stuck in prison though.

4.5 BB-Ready for capture, Total keeper

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67th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, First in a Series, Self-Published

Review: Awaited by Lynn Rush

Title: Awaited
Author: Lynn Rush
Series: Wasteland # 2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source:  Bewitching Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I receive a free copy of this novel from Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:

The Voice is a Powerful Thing….

Russell Leonard is a centuries-old Guardian who’s lost faith in his purpose. So when he’s charged with procuring the first female Guardian in over two centuries, he can only hope it’s the red-headed beauty who’s been haunting his dreams for months. And if it is, he intends to claim her as his.

But when he finds his dream woman, Annabelle is mute and bears no Guardian’s Mark. He soon realizes she’s been tainted by an ancient evil. Russell must somehow release the secrets trapped within this delicate soul to help her tap into the only weapon powerful enough to silence a millennia-old demon-her voice.

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Random: Read the first book, it may appear to be a standalone book but I believe it helps to know what happen in the first book.

It’s been about a month and a half since I’ve read the first book and I’m wishing that I have read this book sooner. There are just some things that I’ve forgotten. The first book isn’t crucial to understanding Awaited but it helps to have read it before. The reason is that certain aspects of the world-building such as the hierarchy (Beka and David) or Jessica are not really explained. They are just taken for granted. Like I said, it’s not crucial but knowing makes the book feel more solid.

Character-wise, Annabelle is an interesting character because she is a mute main character. It’s rare to see a main character have a disability so she starts off being unique. Her uniqueness is built upon by giving her a depressing past and special abilities. She was similar to David in that she knows darkness first-hand.  She has a terrible past, filled with demons and torture. Russell as the Guardian is an intriguing character because I couldn’t understand why he lost his faith. He starts dreaming about a woman and he loses his faith in God, um, I don’t accept that. The dream was probably the catalyst but it’s not the sole reason. He is still interesting because of his faith and devotion to Annabelle. It’s unshakeable. I believe Jessica became more unstable but considering she was unconscious for the first book, she may have always been insane. She has a lovely personality though.

The first female Guardian in over 200 years plotline seemed secondary to Annabelle and Russell’s love story. No one was actively looking for her. It was much more in passing thought that the new Guardian was considered. She turns out to be a very energetic teenager. She is surprised but eager about her new future. Other plotlines are slowly introduced but there is enough information to keep them going at a good pace. The main focus is the love story that has a bumpy road but it never waivers the love between Russell and Annabelle. I’m not fond of that because they never doubted each other. It was just a complete certainty; Russell questions it at time but he never goes deeper than a superficial scratch.

One of the things that left me very confused is the the advancement of technology and laws. It’s been about 35 years since the first book was written and in that time, humans have decided to have brain chips implanted in their heads. Apparently, the chips work as identification cards and money (possibly). It is not explained why the brain chips rose in power or how the technology came to be. It’s confusing because the technology is not explained but more importantly, the chips do not have an actual purpose in the book. They are just there. About the laws, Russell gets freaked out when he falls for Annabelle and he thinks she is 18. He thinks society is going to look down upon their relationship but when he finds out that she is 19, he obtains a sense of relief. Did the age of consent move up or what just happened? I find there are certain world-building aspects of the book that were not explained properly.

Overall, it was a nice edition to to the Wasteland Series. The romance wasn’t as captivating as Beka and David’s romance but it was unique. I’m looking forward to the next book because it seems like the romance will include Jessica. Like I said, she is a little random so I can’t wait to read what she says.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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66th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, 2nd in a Series, Where are you reading?-Colorado

Review: Jaded by Kenya Carlton

Title: Jaded
Author: Kenya Carlton
Series: Standalone
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Format: E-book
Source:  Bewitching Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I receive this novel free of charge from BBTours in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:

War correspondent Mia James is back on US soil and ready to tackle a juicy political story that could make national headlines. A politician’s aid goes missing, and the son of the wealthiest family is the only suspect. Determined to take down the mayor of the small seaside town, Mia comes up against an angry ghost with her own agenda.  Afraid she may be suffering from post traumatic stress Mia figures that she’s way over her head and enlists the help of resident black sheep Gabe Montgomery. Now, she must solve the mystery of her not so friendly ghost, stop herself from falling in love with the mysterious winery owner, all while making it out alive.

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Random: Am I reading the same book as everyone else? Because this is not what I was thought it would be.

(P.S-I’m sick right now so I might be judging the book too harshly)

I’m in complete disbelief regarding this book. Either I am a really negative person when it comes to reviews or I misunderstood the book completely because I’m unsure of it. I think it has potential but it was squandered away by the book’s short length. This is a book that should have been longer by at least another 100 pages.

Let’s talk characters. I had trouble separating characters from each other because there was a rapid introduction. Mia and Tracy are the journalist who are investigating a crime that is just launched upon the readers.  It turns out only Mia is investigating a mystery while Tracy investigates Sheriff Martin Conway. There is Gabe who knows Mia right off the bat. There is Jonathan and his father, the Mayor, who are feuding with Gabe. In the beginning, it was hard to keep track of the characters but they were shelled out later. That’s the good thing. I like that Sherriff Conway was developed a little more than just the Mayor’s errant boy and Tracy’s boy toy.

I have issues with the crime introduction. Yes, it is in the blurb that an aide disappears but it should be introduced in the book more gently. The disappearing aide disappeared before the books started and as a reader, I didn’t know that. I had assumed that the missing aide would disappeared after the women arrived in town because it looked like Mia just wanted a gossip piece on the Mayor instead of investigating the missing woman angle. It would have been nice to know that the characters were already investigating the disappearance prior to their arrival so the information doesn’t appear out of nowhere. I was like “What aide” and I thought I skipped something so I had to re-read the first twenty pages. There was one reference to the aide and it used to word “diddled” but I thought “diddled” meant “fool around (sex).” I’m starting to think it meant “killed.” Yeah, it meant killed. Maybe this is my misunderstanding. I don’t know. (I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m sick). I guess in the end it doesn’t matter because I still felt like I was dropped into the middle of an investigation.

One of the things that lays heavily in favor of the book is Jade the Ghost. She is really fantastic in her possessions and how she makes her presence known. She is aggressive and strong. It’s halfway scary. Her background and the events before her death are interesting. Jade’s background is interesting because I haven’t read a modern book that uses that twist anymore. I love it because it proves that classic twists are classic for a reason and they stand the test of time. I was surprised by it because it is so classic that it is rare to find in a modern book. Jade and the dream memories are amazing, by the way.

Technically, I should give this book four black butterflies because every lost element is a half of butterfly. Rapid introduction of characters and dropping the case on the reader is one lost butterfly. Except I can’t give it to the book because it lost the potential to tell a fantastic story. More pages, more character development, better transitions between scenes would have gone a long way. There is a scene that starts “Where the hell have you been” and I thought Mia had said it about her sunglasses because she was looking for them. Maybe she lost the sunglasses previously. No, that sentence is spoken by Steve, her boss, and it’s a cell phone conversation. I’m like “Where did he come from” because Mia is not on phone, she never picked up the phone nor did she dialed Steve. Awkward. There are a few scenes like the one above. Random but there are not enough commas in the book.

A lot of what I focused on may seem like minor things but they are important to me. I think that it is a good book. It has a solid storyline. The mystery is good and it doesn’t have major plot holes. It just needs more fine-tuning.

3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

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65th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Ghostly, Men in Uniform

Review: Afterlife by Naomi Clark

Title: Afterlife
Author: Naomi Clark
Series: Afterlife # 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2009
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I receive a copy of this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Yasmin Stoker is a ghost tour guide who spends her days showing tourists around Shoregrave’s haunted hotspots. She also happens to be a wraith who spends her nights hunting Revenants, newly-risen flesh-eating vampires. On one of her regular hunts, she witnesses a mysterious ghostly girl pulling the body of a teenage boy underground. Who and what is this girl, and why is she attacking men around the city? Yasmin investigates, but it quickly becomes clear that somebody wants to keep her from finding the killer and they’ll do anything-including ambushing her with ghouls and cacodaemons-to stop her. With only a persistent private eye and a taciturn vampire (one of the Immaculate, no less) to help her, Yasmin must deal with fanatical necromancers, crazed ghosts, and a sexy history teacher in her quest to solve the mystery. And along the way she uncovers some heartbreaking truths about her own existence.

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What I like about it: Props for creativity.

(I’m feeling a bit under the weather so let’s start with a bang).

Yasmin was a strong protagonist who has a very high moral ground. She prides herself on never hurting or killing humans so she looks down upon those paranormal beings who need humans to survive. She is a wraith; she needs to feed on souls in order to live and she only takes the soul of vampires. Yasmin is hard on her roommate, Emma, who is a succubus. Emma wants to feed on who humans who unfortunately end up dead or in a coma. That’s a huge “No-no” for Yasmin. Yasmin and Emma have a tense friendship but they are good friends. It is my first time reading about wraiths (other than the ones mentioned in Stargate: Atlantis which do feed on humans) so I can’t complain about the wraith mythology. Clark revealed some interesting tidbits about the true origin of wraiths so I’m looking forward to reading about it in the next book.

Secondary characters are interesting as well. Private Investigator Ethan Banning is investigating the murders of children in Shoregrave and Lost Anchorage. He may be freaked out by the Pale World and its paranormal inhabitants but he is enjoying the ride. Nicomedes the Lich Lord and overlord of Shoregrave was insane but intriguing. He is pinning after his lost love while slowly losing touch with reality. Plus, he stitched his eyes together. Creepy. Vampire Durante is a constant source of irritation to Yasmin because she needs him but doesn’t like what he is. It’s a interesting relationship but it should become even more so because Clark keeps hinting that they have a past together that Yasmin cannot remember.

Plot-wise, the story moved at a good pace. There are enough interactions between different paranormal creatures while the murder case is moving forward. The murder case and the Golden Ghost are fascinating because there is so much more going on than what is on the surface. There really isn’t a major plot hole in the story overall. It is solid.

One of the things that I liked about this novel was the origin story of the vampire. In Clark’s world, vampires are created when the soul of the deceased return to possess their own body. It looks like they still required another vampire to exchange blood with but the soul is returned back to its body. It solves the dilemma of wondering whether a vampire has a soul or not. The vampire with a soul and vampires are a great source of philosophical inquires and emotional turmoil for Yasmin.

A thing that left me off-balance was the location. I don’t know if the world of Afterlife takes place on our world (Earth) or if it is a secondary world. I think it takes place on our world because it is modern. It left me unbalanced since there are no recognizable cities or monuments. It is obvious that humans don’t know about the Pale World though. I wish there was something more to anchored the reader.

Overall, it was just a solid story with a murder case at the heart of the Pale World.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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64th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, First in a Series, Ghostly

Review: The Rising Moon by Nilsa Rodriguez

Title: The Rising Moon
Author: Nilsa Rodriguez
Series: Rising Moon # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: E-book
Source: FMB Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ Smashwords
I receive a copy of this novel free of charge from FMB Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
How many lives do you have to live to realize that love is stronger than time and death? Orphaned at the age of five, Angelia (Lia) Lafosse was left with questions about whom and what she truly was. One thing was clear. Lia was different. Some might even say cursed. With the help of her best friend, Ryan Woodruff, she begins to unlock the secrets of her families past and discover answers that prove more startling than she ever imagined. Not only was she a werewolf, but a reincarnation of the immortal werewolf, a werewolf with immense powers beyond any of her kind. A werewolf that if discovered by the Lobison’s to have returned, can jeopardize both Lia and those she love. As destiny finds her love does too and they couldn’t be more different. Torn between Lyle Ulric, the charming werewolf whose bloodline is as ancient and powerful as her own. And Adam Ambrose, the mysterious and alluring vampire who’s determined not to allow fate or anyone tear their love apart again. Lia has to make a choice… Destiny or Love…Run or Fight…Live or Die

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Random: If being immortal means never dying, then how does the reincarnation of an immortal work?

This could have been a fantastic book because it has a unique storyline and has a Native American community at the heart of the book. It just falls short of being a fantastic book because the main character gladly drank the kool-aid.

Let’s talk about Lia. For someone who is a loner, she sure is popular. More importantly, she doesn’t have a loner’s personality. Lia finds out new information that changes her life rapidly and she adapts to it quite rapidly which is not a trait that is usually found in people who feel the need to be alone. She doesn’t question why people are talking to her whereas a loner would question the motivation behind people talking to her. Especially if no one notice her previously. It could be prank but she just accepts the people coming into her life. Any information that she is given is accepted as a fact. Werewolves exists? She believes after one person tells her that it is true. Either she is gullible or she isn’t smart enough to question it. When it comes to the supernatural world, there is no disbelief on her part. That’s not to say that she isn’t a strong character. She has a devotion to her family that is admiring. It is fantastic that she doesn’t break down when she learns about the mythology surrounding her (but at the same time, it makes her seem inhuman because she is not freaking out even a little bit).

The supporting cast are of Native American blood. Ryan is the one who befriends Lea. Why? He thinks he has a crush on her. Anyways, he introduces her to the woman who spills everything about werewolves and vampires to Lia. He is pretty much the only one who plays a strong supporting character because none of the other tribe members are fleshed out. Kima, a shifter, comes to a close second in being fleshed out but not really.

Even the love interests are not completely fleshed out. Lyle is a werewolf, well, a Lobison. When he transforms, he loses all sense of humanity yet somehow still manages to save Lia. He just loves Lia immediately so there is no background as to why he loves her. He just does. He is a strong character that goes against his family wishes to show that he cares about Lia. Adam is a vampire and he is also in love with Lia because she is the reincarnated soul of his loved one. He only likes Lia because she reminds him of a dead woman and Lia loves him. He doesn’t care for Lia because of who she is; he cares about Lia because a dead woman. That’s not love. At least Lyle cared for Lia for Lia yet Adam is the one Lia ends up choosing. Ryan was in the midst of this love triangle for awhile but it was one-sided on his side.

One of the the biggest issues that I have with this novel is how everything is introduced to Lia. Better yet, how secrets are just immediately told. Lia doesn’t have to work to discover that she is a shifter, someone tells her right away. Lia doesn’t have to beg to find out more information about her biological mother. People are drawn to tell the truth to Lia so the novel makes everything come easy to Lia. There is no suspense in learning about the world-building because everything is told directly. It is just too convenient. To make matter worse, Lia accepts it as fact. She has no disbelief about anything that is told to her. She was also kidnapped and accepts it. She doesn’t even struggled to escape because it was a loved one who kidnapped her.

In the end, there are some strong points in the novel. It has a unique storyline that could have been explored more. A different version of a werewolf that is much deadly than the average werewolf. If the book had made Lia a little less accepting and more inquisitive about what people were telling her, then the book would have been good even with the screwed-up love triangle.

2BB-Look for in the Library

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63rd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, YA Mythology Where are you reading?-Wyoming

Review: The Corpse Goddess by Kristi Jones

Title: The Corpse Goddess
Author: Kristi Jones
Series: The Corpse Goddess # 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source: Bewitching Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz
I received a copy of this novel free of charge from BBT in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Party girl Meg Highbury wakes up the morning after her twenty-first birthday with one hell of a hangover—and a walking corpse in her apartment. Meg turns to her straight-laced neighbor Armando for help, and together they discover that Meg is a Valkyrie. What’s more, her first duty is to trade places with the corpse.

But Meg is being sent to her Death Duty too soon. In a race against time, Meg frantically tries to find a loophole to avoid her gruesome fate, but while Meg is determined to live whatever the cost, Armando’s strict moral principles keep getting in the way of her plans for escape.

Can Meg walk the “right” and narrow path, possibly sacrificing her mortal life, for love? And if she can, will Armando have the stomach to love a rotting corpse of a girl who is falling apart in more ways than one?

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Random: If you are not into reading about explicitly decaying bodies, turn away. There is also some spoilers ahead. Just be warned.

Second Warning: Let me get this out of the way. This book is filled graphic description of decaying bodily functions. Meg (main character) pees herself ….multiple times. Maggots and rotting flesh are in abundance. I’m giving my readers a fair warning because I was shocked but will not disapprove of the rotting information. It is called Corpse Goddess so I thought “Mummy” and not an actual corpse. My bad.

Meg has to be the most physically disgusting main character I have ever read and I like to read about serial killers. A lot of props have to be given to Jones for writing a main character that is gassy, physically stinks, skin is tuning blue and falling off. Meg is just plain gross. She is a decent character but I didn’t particularly cared for her in the beginning. It was annoying that she never really took responsibility for her actions and bringing the curse upon herself. There is always someone to blame and the only time she admits fault is when she says “We did this” so that is not even a full admission. Anyways, she is a brave character who puts herself to danger to rescue her friends. Meg is driven to save her own life but she put herself through an emotional turmoil that was completely unnecessary (if she had only listened more closely). It adds great complexity to her character but it makes her appear to be an idiot. The situation would have also been helped if either of the Gonzalez Men had stopped arguing with Meg about moral reasons and just brought up the most obvious reason then the emotional turmoil would have never have happened. It is really an idiotic dead giveaway.

Now, who are the Gonzalez Men? One is Armando who is Meg’s neighbor and the other is Dr. Gonzalez, Armando’s father. They have a great relationship which is great contrast to Meg’s parental relationship. Armando and Dr. Gonzalez have beautiful scene where they are talking about responsibilities to our loved ones and it is moving. Possibly the best scene in the book because it is so heart-wrenching and honest. Possibly the best parental relationship that I have seen as well. Mind you, they are still idiots for not stating the most obvious problem of Meg’s solution.

Are you ready to find out why all the characters are idiots but still decent people? It is in the scene where the girls accidentally summon Loki. It stand out because it cements Meg’s stupidity and the scene wasn’t faithful to Loki’s character. As readers, we are told the Valkyrie can only be women and this is told repeatedly to Meg and the Gonzalez Men (Dr. Gonzalez actually does research on Valkyries) by her father yet the person she chooses to be her Valkyrie replacement is a man. Wow, this is Meg’s life on the line and she commits a vital mistake that it is hard to believe that she actually wants to save her life. Even Loki is confused by her logic. Let’s move on to Loki and why he is a failed god. Loki is the god of tricks; he may play a jokester but he is smart. This Loki talks and laughs like a three year toddler. He is supposed to be a funny man but it is hard to see when he is acting like a complete idiot (and not even the adorable idiot). The only good thing about Jones’s Loki is his sick sense of humor and it is sick. Loki would do something like that and it fits his character but his mannerisms are shot to hell.

Yes, I have called the all characters idiots for forgetting this major requirement of Valkyries. A good portion of the book is spent debating and dividing the group over the Valkyrie replacement so it is vital to the book. The fact that they were debating over nothing since the replacement is wrong means the book drove circles around itself. The debates while interesting and philosophical are invalid because it is a man who Meg wants to be a replacement. As readers, we are not going to be emotionally invested in the moral debate if the end result is pointless. Meg crossed the line for nothing. If the replacement was a woman, then, yes, the debate would have resonated more strongly with us because it would have been a “make it or break it” situation. Meg crossing the line would have changed her fate. Crossing the line for a man just adds emotional turmoil and dimension.

The book is actually really decent except for the Valkyrie replacement issue. I spent so much time focusing on it because I felt cheated. I just knew it was going nowhere. Once it crosses the whole “Man Valkyrie” issue, it turns out really good. There are amazing twists in the end and I fairly enjoyed the grossness of the book. That’s why I gave it four black butterflies. Yes, I may have complained a great deal about it but it is a good book. Did I mentioned there is a zombie in the mix as well?

Oh, one last thing. I love the fact that Jones portrayed the Gonzalez Men as Mexican and actually allowed them to speak Spanish. There was also some German and British mixed in there as well. Pretty good of showing people and their nationalities/race.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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62nd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, First in a Series, Zombie, Where are you reading?- Texas