11

To Fall For You: Overwhelmingly Disappointing

bookreview

To Fall For You

 

When Emma is shocked to the core by a surprise break-up, the sudden arrival of the ‘new girl at school’ sends her into a frenzy and pushes her down a journey of heartbreak and betrayal. Will Emma be able to overcome life’s hurdles and learn to love again?

After spending her life moving around and facing troubles of her own, Renée is glad to be in her last year of school. That is, until she meets Emma. Will Renée be able to find acceptance and friendship in her new town?

addtogoodreads

YA / Romance / Contemporary
150 Pages
Publication Date: January 1st, 2017
Get a copy here!

2Penguins
Quick Reasons: the blurb is a bit misleading; the plot moves WAY too quickly; SERIOUSLY WITH THAT ENDING?!; super confusing writing; Emma was just a BIT of a drama queen; I couldn’t connect with the characters or with this story, though I tried my hardest to

Huge thanks to R.J. Groves and BookTasters for sending me a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

When I read the blurb for this title, I thought FOR SURE Emma and Renée were bound to end up together in the end…not caught up in some weird girl-hate jealousy thing. So when the book began and I realized what this was actually about, I was, suffice to say, pretty severely disappointed. Having read back over the blurb now, after finishing the book, I realize where I went so wrong…BUT STILL! I had high hopes for you, book…and in the end, unfortunately, those hopes were popped like too-full balloons.

 

The characters were interesting. I didn’t feel much of an emotional investment in any of them, honestly; Emma was a drama queen, Renée was a bit 1-dimensional, and the rest of the characters seemed to be place-holders or plot-pushers. The fact that Renée and Emma find themselves stuck in this weird jealousy competition over Kane only served to disappoint me more–I mean, I WAS that girl in high school. I fell for a “friend’s” guy and ended up in a weird tug-of-war feud with her. Looking back on it now, I realize it was a bit petty…and I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever book characters find themselves doing the same. Girl-hate is such a cliched and horrible trope, I just can’t handle it in my books.

tffy-quote1

There were a lot of really confusing moments throughout, as well–and I found myself, more than once, unable to suspend my disbelief long enough to actually get into and enjoy the story. Renée’s stint in the hospital, for instance, REALLY grated my nerves–mostly because I feel like some of the finer details in R.J. Groves’ writing were lacking research and medical “backup.” There were also some plot points I felt were “forced” or contrived merely to drive the story forward, instead of serving an actual purpose and/or making sense to the story itself.

 

Unfortunately, this was a swing and a miss read for me. I couldn’t connect with the characters, the story moved way too quickly plot-wise, and I spent a large part of my reading time feeling SUPER confused about what was going on. I was also pretty largely disappointed in how 1-dimensional the story turned out to be. Still…the cover is absolutely stunning, and there were some entertainingly snarky moments hidden in the murk! Also, just because this book didn’t work for me personally, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you–so keep that in mind!

4

Twice the Fun: This was Neither Sexy OR Steamy

bookreview

Twice the Fun: A Bad Boy MFM Menage Romance

We take what we f*cking want. Even when what we want is the same girl.

Dante:

I’m one half of the infamous Rossi Brothers.

We share everything. And I do mean f*cking everything.

Together we’ve built an empire known as The Fun House gentleman’s club and we’ve become two of the most powerful— although also the most investigated— men in town.

We need to protect what’s ours and the last thing we need is a f*cking distraction.

But now we can’t seem to keep our two… business interests… out of the hottest dancer to ever walk into our club and into both of our lives.

Marino:

Jessica showed up out of nowhere, bringing with her the sexiest curves I’d ever seen.

I’d promised myself not to share club girls with Dante.

We’ve set up rules and number one is to never mix business with pleasure.

But Jessica’s so hot we can’t resist. And neither my brother nor I are known for playing by the rules.

I might not be thinking with the right f*cking head but Jessica has me thinking with my heart as well… and that’s when the fun starts to get dangerous.

Jessica:

I’m going undercover. As a stripper.

My Senate committee assigns me to investigate The Fun House and take down the Rossi brothers.

I might be the youngest member of the committee but I’m good at my job— the best. But now I’m doing my job in six-inch heels and not much else.

I’m ready to do whatever it takes but nothing prepares me for Dante and Marino.
These possessive bad boys want me. Exclusively. Giving them private dances.

How was I supposed to know how much fun it would be to bare my body and my soul to two muscular, tattooed brothers at the same time?

They say they care about me but I know they care about loyalty even more.

Will they ever forgive me when they uncover the truth? The real reason I came to their club was to bring them down.

Twice the Fun is a standalone MFM menage romance with no cliffhanger and a double happy ending. It’s all about two hot bad boys falling for one woman. There are no M/M scenes and it’s only about pleasing her. Because the only thing better than being with one bad boy is being with two at the same time!

*** Just a warning that the heat level on this one is scorching hot! If you don’t like steamy scenes featuring two guys pleasing the one woman they both love, take a pass on this one.

For a limited time this edition comes with two bonus books from The Bradford Brothers series: Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance and Ramsey: A Military Bad Boy Secret Baby Romance. Twice the Fun ends at approximately 30%. On sale for only 99 cents for a limited time!

Erotica / Menage / Romance
146 Pages
Publication Date:  December 19th, 2016
Get a copy here!

2Penguins
Quick Reasons: sub-par plot; 1-dimensional characters; I didn’t connect to the story OR the personalities; there were some weird plot holes that were never really explained; the romance wasn’t believable and things progressed way too quickly; I just didn’t enjoy this one, penguins

I was SO super excited to be picking up a book not on my “reviews required” list, and to be diving into another menage romance (I know, I know–it’s definitely not for everyone, but I enjoy them?! sue me). Unfortunately for me, though…this one fell very, very flat. Just a warning for my dedicated penguin readers: there will be no quotes from this book, because…I really couldn’t find any I liked that were still “reader friendly” for all the ages that stop by here. So no quotes! Again, sue me?

Let’s talk nitty gritty: the blurb promises drama, intrigue, and a lot of steamy action. All of these promises, in the end, fell SUPER flat. The plot was pretty basic and 1-dimensional; there were a lot of sex scenes, but they were so quick and emotionless, I didn’t find them steamy in the slightest. The drama and intrigue, also, fell short–instead of playing major roles in the story progression, they were mentioned once or twice and then forgotten for the “pleasures” of the budding relationship.

The timing was really fast, too. In fact, the pacing was SO quick, I had a very difficult time suspending my disbelief for the plot or the realism of the characters/relationship. I tried, very hard, to find the emotions in these character interactions and reactions…but the dialogue was filled with cursing and foul-mouthed talking. This story wasn’t so much believable as it was a farce on relationships–which is super harsh, I know, but I cannot find a way to wrap my head around how QUICKLY the pace jumped. It just wasn’t realistic.

The writing was pretty iffy, too. Names and characters were confused–one character would be in the middle of talking, but the author would change the name in the next breath. There were a fair number of grammatical errors as well–missing words being the biggest. This wasn’t helped, in the slightest, by the various plot holes laced throughout. The most glaring: why someone working as a SENATOR…would be “investigating” people. Legally, I don’t think they can even do that. Also, they’re not cops; they have no actual standing in regards to upholding the LAW….so….why? Why was this even a thing? It makes no sense to me. There were a few other things I had issues with, but… this was the biggest one.

Overall, I was super confused by this book and couldn’t enjoy it. Neither characters or plot were believable, the pacing was way too fast, and I couldn’t connect emotionally with either the personalities or the story. This was a big penguin-beaks down for me, unfortunately–the “hot and steamy” was, in fact, super disappointing.

1

The Spot on the Wall: There’s Nothing “Sexy” About these Sex Scenes

Penguin2.3

The spot on the Wall

A UNIQUE erotic paranormal horror story which centers on Ron, whose sexual obsession with Laura leads him to murder the recluse owner of the house she HAS to have. After Ron secretly hides the corpse in the cellar, the couple moves in. In time, however, a strange spot begins appearing on their dining room wall.

Horror/Paranormal/Erotica
338 Pages
What-If Productions
Publication Date: August 15th, 2016
Get a copy here!

2.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: there wasn’t anything horrifying about this read; I really disliked the amount of graphic, detailed sex fantasies we got from Ron’s POV; I wouldn’t even call this an “erotic” read, there was nothing sexy about it; an interesting look into obsession and the ways it changes us; random ghosts?

Huge thanks to Rob Santana, What-If Productions, and the crew at Booktasters for sending me a copy of this title free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

It is safe to say I did not particularly enjoy or appreciate this book, for several huge reasons. So let’s start at the beginning. I found the look into obsession and greed, and the ways these things change us or alter our behavior toward others, interesting and thought-provoking. When I first picked up this book, I was SUPER intrigued–I was excited about the idea of an erotic horror story and kept having flashbacks to that scene in American Horror Story: Murder House. If you’ve seen the show, I’m sure you know which scene I’m talking about–it involves a rubber suit? This was not at all what I got from this book, though.

For one….nothing about this book horrified me. I was hoping for fear. I was hoping this book would give me nightmares. I was HOPING I’d be kept awake at night, searching the shadows, fearing the things that go “bump.” None of this happened. Even the scenes that should have been scary, fell flat–and I’m not sure if that’s because of my personal dislike for the book, or the way the scenes were written.

Ron stood up and approached the smudge. Without disturbing Helena, he reached for a hand towel, then dabbed at the spot.

It was gone.

Just a normal, everyday blemish.

I don’t feel like the characters went through much personal growth or discovery. Ron, throughout the read, remains a whiny, sex-crazed guy. Seriously, the dude thought of literally NOTHING ELSE–every other page was smeared with graphic, detailed sex fantasies. He was judgmental, insulting, and obsessive. All of these things, while perhaps calling for an interesting character….put me off. The rest of the characters were just as 1-dimensional; I couldn’t–and didn’t really want to–connect with any of them. Which is depressing, as it made for a very long, very frustrating read.

There were a few moments at the beginning that piqued my interest enough to keep me reading, but…this quickly devolved into the rambling thoughts of a man obsessed with sex and intent on doing ANYTHING to get it. Ron claims to “love” Laura throughout….but when presented with other opportunities to find pleasure in other women, suddenly it’s all “No, I don’t think she really cares for me, what would it matter if I cheated?” Had this been written in a different manner…with less emphasis on sex/the “erotic”…it might have been scary. It might have been more entertaining. I might have actually enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, with everything I detailed above, this just wasn’t the right fit for me personally. While I don’t mind sex in my books, I want there to be an actual plot outside of the bedroom–and while there IS a plot going on here, it’s muddled. It gets lost in Ron’s obsession. I think the emphasis might have been better had it lied upon the ghost story, and not the erotic. Still, the small insight into obsession and greed–and the ways they warp and change us–was interesting. I’m disappointed…but maybe you’ll like this book better than I did. Just because I’m disappointed, doesn’t mean YOU will be–so if you think it sounds interesting, pick it up!

1

A Review of Fairic Stone, by C.R. Sedore

Penguin2.3

Fairic Stone

Goodreads Rating: 4.00 Stars
58 Pages
Smashwords Publishing
Get a copy here!

Fairic is a planet similar to our own. The biggest difference besides its two moons is that the ecosystem thrives on elemental energy. Fairic is inhabited by mortals and spell wielders. Four races of wielders are blessed with elemental power that keeps the ecosystem thriving. Fire wielders are cast out because they are infected with a virus that turns them into demons called Ashards. Now the planet has a dying ecosystem with the lack of an element. Then there are Ashards burning and killing everything in sight. The planet is in immediate doom unless someone can find a cure.

Cora is one of the last fire wielders because she was born during the breakout. She is feared by most at the tender age of 16. She is a contagious time bomb waiting to infect and destroy. She is forced through tragedies and curiosity to embark on a journey. Cora and her best friend Odessa set out to find a cure but it will come at a price neither of them expected.

– – – – –

2Penguins

Quick Reasons: I…am not sure I followed anything that happened in this novella; the timing is wonky; the characters fell flat; the prose and plot line felt rushed; I spent most of the read very, very confused and very, very frustrated

This novella was…strange. And usually, that’s a good thing in my world—I’m all about the strange, after all! But…this was strange in a way I just couldn’t get behind. It just didn’t WORK, for me.

First off, the characters and the world-building felt really flat. Like…there are supposed to be all these awesome powers, and element-wielders, and magic! Except we didn’t really SEE it, much, save brief snippets that passed in like two sentence intervals. The world-building was spotty, as well—we’d get told something, but details fell through the crack. Things weren’t properly explained. And the things that were explained…were really confusing!

Also, the prose often contradicted itself. One thing would be said in one sentence, but then five sentences down the road it would all get turned on its head. There was a LOT of “yabba yabba”…as in, the narrator talked. A lot. About ALL TEH THINGS ever…except it felt like all that ever happened was talk, because everytime something important happened, or seemed to be about to, our MC fainted. Or got called away. Or was told it “wasn’t important” when really, we, as readers, were dying for those details.

This was just…weird. And not in the way I like. I, personally, just couldn’t get into it—I didn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t understand most of the story, and at the end of the read, all I felt was frustrated. I guess this just wasn’t the novella for me, though it seems others really like it—it’s got a pretty decent rating on Goodreads. So…not for me, but maybe it’s for you?

1

A Review of Wild Cat (Leopard People #8), by Christine Feehan

Wild Cat

Goodreads Rating: 3.99 Stars
395 pages
Jove Publishing
Get a copy here!

In the new Leopard novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cat’s Lair and Leopard’s Prey, passions explode like wildfire when a young woman’s feral instincts are ignited by a man who’s too dangerous not to desire…

A simple request for Siena Arnotto: deliver a gift to her grandfather’s friend. One look at Elijah Lospostos, hard-bodied and stripped to the waist, and Siena succumbs to a feline stirring she never felt before, and to Elijah’s reckless and pleasurable demands. But when that pulse-throbbing moment ends in the murder of an unexpected intruder, Elijah accuses the shaken and confused Siena of setting him up.

Then Siena discovers the truth of her Leopard heritage, of the secrets in her grandfather’s inner circle, and the sinister plot of revenge that has put her in jeopardy. When Siena’s grandfather is assassinated, she realizes the only man she can trust is Elijah. Now as her Leopard rises from within, Siena and Elijah share not only an animal instinct for survival—but a desire so raw and wild it may be the only thing that can save them.

– – – – –

2Penguins
Quick Reasons: this book is crap; what the HELL happened to your writing, Feehan?; I’m supremely disappointed; trigger warning: lots of abuse, both emotional and physical; I just… I don’t even know what the hell this is

There will be no favorite quotes section for this review, because the entire book is pretty much varying degrees of either “super loud, obnoxious, rude yelling and cruelty” or “sex scenes that did nothing for me.” I refuse to try to find even the most salvagable quotes in this book, because it’s pure crap and I’m not happy about it.

First off: Feehan, what the HELL happened to your writing?! You used to be good. I’ve been reading her books since I was a senior in high school; up until the last year, I’d NEVER ONCE been disappointed with her novels. But the last…three? four? I’ve read have only gone downhill. This one is particularly bad—the “hero” is an abusive, manipulative asshole; the romance doesn’t exist at all; I didn’t once connect to either of these characters or their story… Nothing about this book makes me want to read more of her stuff. Which is sad, because I already bought her other new release.

There’s a fine line between “sexy” and “abusive” – between “dominating” and “control freak.” Feehan stepped over that line with this book…and made the read absolutely awful. I’m not going to sugar coat it: all this book is, is angry abuse/emotional manipulation…and sex I didn’t care a lick for, because there was absolutely no passion in it. The characters are flat. Elijah is a HUGE douche canoe, and I don’t say things like that hardly ever…but I LOATHED him. I absolutely could not stand him, at all. What happened to “building up the passion,” Feehan? What happened to “sensual chemistry” and “sexy foreplay” and making your story COUNT for something?

I just… Ugh. This book is 400 pages of pure ick and stomach-churning yuck, and I don’t recommend readers new to Feehan’s paranormal worlds start with this—trust me, her earlier work is much better. This crap she’s been spouting lately? I don’t know what’s up with it, but I’m beginning to think perhaps she’s hit her writing wall. Maybe she just has nothing new to add. Maybe she needs to step back, stop publishing five plus books a year, and instead refocus on the morals I thought she started out wanting to keep in her writing: that sex isn’t everything. That dominating males don’t have to be asswads. That there IS still passion in romance.

I’m disappointed. And angry. I think I need to find a new favorite romance author…because Feehan’s just not doing it for me these days.

1

A Review of My Life Without Me, by Jaclyn Aurore

My Life Without Me

Goodreads Rating: 4.00 Stars
233 pages
Morning Rain Publishing
Get it here!

My name is Jamie, and I am brilliant. Or at least I was. Now I don’t know what’s what anymore.

Living in a swirling fog of absent memories, Jamie struggles every day to remember who she is and where she’s going. While her classmates are discussing the latest book craze, she is tracking her own life in a journal.

Each day brings new challenges, especially when Callum McKenzie appears, bringing with him a brief glimpse of clarity. Whenever the exchange student from Scotland is near, Jamie’s unusual amnesia recedes, allowing her to experience university life with ease.

Unfortunately, Callum’s presence in her life is as unstable as the fog that threatens her. He knows more about Jamie’s life than she does, but he never sticks around long enough for her to figure anything out. It’s only a matter of time before she forgets everything altogether.

– – – – –

2.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: sickening, overly sweet insta-love; who kisses strange men in bathrooms just after meeting them?!; weird plot, with very little explanation; random “tie ups” that made little sense in the grand scheme of things; a lot of this felt like the author was seeking an easy, but unique, out for the plot-corner she wrote herself into; I was curious enough to keep reading, but…

I just… I didn’t like this book. I mean, yeah—I was curious enough to want to keep reading. I pushed through the weird, the random, and the confusing to get to the end…but I don’t feel like the lead-up was nearly as climactic as I’d been expecting. I was waiting for some huge ball to drop, some major secret to be revealed. Instead, I got weird tie-ups and a sense the author wrote herself into a corner…and couldn’t figure out a way to get out of it.

“I’ve been trying to study for midterms, and write these papers. I don’t have time for romance.”

So, first off: I felt literally nothing. NOTHING. For Jamie. Which isn’t surprising, as she doesn’t even really know enough about herself to care about herself throughout this book. But come on, book! Seriously?! You couldn’t give me a character like Jamie that I could actually connect with and feel something for? It’s interesting, thinking about it now—this is one of several books I’ve read recently with characters who have amnesia/memory problems. I don’t think I’ve honestly liked ANY of those characters enough to care about what they go through in their books. Why is it so difficult to make a likeable character who also has memory loss? I don’t get it.

Callum I liked…to a point. But again, we weren’t really given enough of him/his personality to make a complete judgment. These two characters felt more like paper dolls than humans: dress them up, choose their facial expressions…but you’ll only feel something if you knick yourself on their sharp edges. Except this book? HAS no sharp edges. There were no “jump” moments; there were no large epiphanies or huge reveals that led to heartbreak for me. The read was…pretty flat, which is disappointing, as I’d been hoping, from the blurb, for some sort of epic romance/self-discovery journey.

After a few more classics like Video Killed the Radio Star, Piano Man, and Bohemian Rhapsody, along with a couple of songs that I don’t recognize, like a random track about liking big butts and not lying about it, and a tune by Michael Jackson that I probably should recognize but don’t…another person from our table is called to the microphone.

Speaking of…there were a LOT of things in this read that didn’t make sense to me, and felt sort of half-explained. A lot of the time, it seemed as if the writer got bored with her story halfway through, so threw in some “twists” that were meant to spice things up but really only worked to confuse readers more. I mean…in a book that, for the most part, remains pretty much in the realm of realistic, suddenly casting out the “dark magic” reveal near the end? I couldn’t shed my disbelief fast enough to follow that line of thinking. Count in the fact that it’s not mentioned really anywhere else, save a brief moment when Jamie makes a quip about it being “magic” or “evil forces”…you can see why this was hard for me to swallow, I think.

This was, overall, a very disappointing read. The only reason I even kept reading through it was because I wanted to know what happened—my curiosity was piqued pretty early on. But…the answers I found at the end? Not nearly as satisfying as I’d been hoping for. I don’t know that I’d recommend this—even as someone who adores weird reads, this book was almost TOO weird. It’s confusing, abrupt, and not easy to lose yourself in. But…those are just my opinions. Perhaps you’ll think something different.

1

A Review of Unexpected Alpha, by Bethany Wicker

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Female Alphas are unheard of in werewolf society, and the Sapphire Pack is no different. So when Lena’s father dies, no one is more shocked than she to discover that his Alpha powers have transferred to her. Lena has her hands full protecting her pack from hunters and rogue wolves, while simultaneously facing prejudices and power-hungry males who want to mate with her just to steal her title.

But when the uber-sexy Kane enters the picture, Lena gets a lot more than she bargained for. He irritates her to no end, while giving her butterflies at the same time. With his interference and her new-found power bubbling under her skin, something inside her changes, leaving her confused as to what she truly is. She soon discovers that searching for answers is most difficult when the last person she can trust is the only one who has them.

– – – – –

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: story feels incomplete; plot is a bit dull, driven more by “telling” than “showing”; world-building is almost nonexistant; more questions than answers; characters didn’t really “pop” for me

When I read the blurb for this book, I was SO excited. For one, though I know they exist, I’ve never read a book about werewolves (er…well, I mean, SOLELY about werewolves. Because you know, they’re kind of everywhere. You can’t escape them!) I was expecting a lot of drama, a fair amount of action, and a kick ass female lead.

I don’t feel like I really got any of that.

First off: the writing was awkward. The tense kept shifting between “past” and “future” in the middle of sentences, descriptors were really lacking… I just couldn’t “see” into this story. And I think, if I’m honest, that’s the biggest problem I had. Well, that, and the world-building, but I’ll get to that in a minute. See… I’m a very tactile reader. I like my descriptors to sing. I like the world to sweep across my thoughts like a dream and root me, deeply, there until the end. This read just…didn’t.

The world-building, also, is severely lacking. By the time I reached the end, I didn’t feel as if any of my questions had been answered. In fact, I had about fifty more questions crop up the last few chapters than I should have, because things kept being added in instead of getting wrapped up. Imagine you’re sitting in your class, taking a final exam. Except the teacher put things on the test that you never covered in your lectures, never brushed upon in your readings, never learned from your assignments. That’s sort of how it feels the world-building in this read was patched together; we were given little bits and glimpses, but in the end, none of them quite matched up. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together with pieces from ten OTHER puzzles that don’t fit.

While our female lead IS pretty kick ass, she sort of falls flat with the perspective this was given. The first few chapters are filled with info-dumps, stereotypes, and general “too much going on, not enough building up.” There is so much packed into this read (seriously, it’s like your carry-on bag after a three day vacation where lots of books were bought!) I don’t feel any of it was given the chance to actually breathe and grow. Which is sad, because this story has the potential to be awesome! I can see it there… but it’s bogged down with awkward tense shifts, info dumps, and general “ick.”

This definitely wasn’t the read for me, unfortunately. As excited as I was going in, I lost that the farther I went. I can’t personally say I’d recommend this read, but if you’re into “alternative” werewolf novels, this might be for you. For me, it’s on to the next one!

0

A Review of Grimm Diaries Prequels (#1-6), by Cameron Jace

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What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?

Warning: these Grimm Prequels are like snap shots of a magical land you’re about to visit soon. I like to think of them as poisoned apples. Once you taste them, you will never see fairy tales in the same light again.

The Grimm Diaries Prequels are short books in the form of epistolary diary entries. They are teasers for The Grimm Diaries. The 6 diaries are told by The Evil Queen, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, the Devil, Prince Charming, and Alice Grimm.

Grimm Diaries Prequels:

1. Snow White Blood Red (narrated by The Snow White Queen)
2. Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder (narrated by Alice Grimm)
3. Beauty Never Dies (narrated by Peter Pan)
4. Ladle Rotten Rat Hut (narrated by Little Red Riding Hood)
5. Mary Mary Quite Contrary
6. Blood Apples (narrated by Prince Charming)
7 . Jawigi (narrated by sandman Grimm)

– – – – –

Rating: 2.25/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: LOVE the creative, unique spins on the old, well-known tales; love the “twisted” end reveals; not so in love with the choppy world-building, awkward dialoge, and often confusing plots; disappointed overall with writing quality

I was worried, going in to this read, that I might not be as blown away with it as I was expecting. The blurb sounds AMAZING, the idea of these retellings being told from the POV of rather unexpected characters was exciting… I deliberated for several days before deciding to at the very least give this first collection of “prequels” a shot before choosing to either continue with the stories or put them aside.

After reading this… I’m leaning, sadly, toward putting them aside.

I wondered why you didn’t burn the original scripts, instead of rewriting them. You must have figured out that sooner or later, someone would dig up the truth and expose you. Altering the stories was the smarter solution. You let children believe that vampire bites were resurrecting kisses, and that glass coffins were made for sleeping beauties, waiting for a prince to come and kiss them awake.

So, I was SUPER impressed with the “prologue” and the first prequel story. They seemed well-put-together, the prose was poetic and lyrical… I LOVED the Queen of Sorrow’s story, the ideas thrown around about Snow White and her true nature. It was all so beautifully crafted, I was enthralled—and while I knew the writing was a BIT shoddy around the edges, I ignored it for the captivating words being woven around me. The first two sections? Really worked for me. I was really excited about continuing on… until I started the second prequel.

Because somewhere between the end of book one and the beginning of book two, something shifted in Cameron Jace’s writing style. Dialogue was awkward and realistic at times: the characters repeated the same things over and over, or spoke in ways I couldn’t understand. I get they’re fairy tale characters, but…they should be able to hold a conversation like normal people? So why don’t they? The plots became wildly “spontaneous”–and by this, I mean they were all over the place. There was often little explanation and answers weren’t easily grasped by readers. The writing became rushed, instead of prolific and poetic. It began to fall flat.

“I thought so,” I said under my breath as I walked out. “Every child’s dream is to push a button and kill imaginary friends.”

I enjoyed the creativity Cameron Jace showed here. There were many times I found myself going… “Huh. Why hadn’t I thought of that?!” Which, if we’re being honest, is ALWAYS a good thing in a piece of writing. I had fun reading the many different alterations and experiments Cameron Jace used throughout the stories—there were a lot of “secrets” waiting to be uncovered or stumbled upon.

I feel, though, these prequels MIGHT have too many characters to focus on. There are so many different voices, so many different individual stories being woven here—I feel like Cameron Jace’s attention was unfairly and unequally divided. It’s easy to tell at times which characters/stories were more invested in, and which got the short end of the stick in the end. This made reading these first six prequels difficult and frustrating for me. I just wish, I guess, that there were less characters and more STORY, if that makes sense? Of course, they’re teasers, I get that…but that doesn’t mean the quality has to fall short.

A while later, we held hands. I liked it, still gripping my scythe in the other hand. Like the wolf boy said, maybe that was how relationships worked. A girl had to have her scythe behind her back, and a boy had his moments of uncontrollable hunger.

So… I enjoyed these for their creativity and unique ideas, but I was frustrated with them at the same time. I don’t think I’m going to be continuing on with this series—at least not at this time in my life. Maybe in the future I’ll give them a second shot, but for now, it’s time to move along to something else. I’d still recommend to lovers of fairy tale retellings, unique and inventive “twists,” and dark/edgy story telling. Just because thiswasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it’s not for you!

10

A Review of Nirvana, by J.R. Stewart

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When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Larissa Kenders lives in a world where the real and the virtual intermingle daily. After the supposed death of her soulmate, Andrew, Larissa is able to find solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world where anything is possible – even visits with Andrew. Although Larissa is told that these meetings are not real, she cannot shake her suspicion that Andrew is indeed alive. When she begins an investigation of Hexagon, the very institution that she has been taught to trust, Larissa uncovers much more than she ever expected and places herself in serious danger. Her biggest challenge, however, remains determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is the first instalment in the three-part “Nirvana” series, a fast-paced, page-turning young adult trilogy that combines elements of the romance, mystery, and science fiction genres. This first novel introduces readers to a heroine who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.

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Rating: 2/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: shoddy world building; flat, one dimensional story telling; characters don’t leap from the page and are rather pigheadedly stubborn; no sense of connection to the main protagonist or her situation; weird time skips, awkward plot holes, and a whole lot of confusion

I received an ARC of this read in exchange for an honest review; many thanks to J.R. Stewart, Blue Moon Publishers, and Netgalley! (this in no way changed my rating, review, or opinions of this book)

So, okay. The cover is abso-freaking-LUTELY gorgeous. Like, I cannot handle how beautiful it is—the mysteriousness, the mist, the water, the buildings, the awesome pose… It all comes together so wonderfully, and made me want to pick it up because WHAT SORT OF BOOK could possibly be bad with a cover like this?!?! Just… Just LOOK at it! It’s so pretty!

I wish… I wish I could say the same for the writing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the writing’s not BAD, necessarily. It’s a bit lackluster overall, but not bad. The story telling, though, I have a large bit of contention with. Because… Well, it’s pretty much nonexistant. The blurb makes this sound like it’s going to be this awesome, action-packed, gut-punching read about a girl who treads the line between reality and the imagination (or…the virtual imagination, I guess). Except this read? It’s more focused on Larissa’s obsessive need to prove her fiance is still “alive” despite all the proof to the contrary she’s been provided with. Because she sees him in Nirvana. Because obviously duh it’s a sign. Because damn it, if he was dead, she’d KNOW. I mean really… If you cross breeded a bull with a ram, she’d be the result: she’s THAT stubborn. Except she doesn’t actually DO anything about it, except ask questions and poke her nose into virtual worlds in an effort to “find” him (because apparently in this world, when you enter a virtual reality, your body goes with you? but the science behind this isn’t explained)

In fact, the science behind a lot of this world is left unexplained or half-reasoned. While I don’t usually mind books that break/bend the rules or leave some things up to chance…this book literally has no ground to stand on. The world is flat, the descriptions we do get are shoddy, and at times it feels as if the author was writing by guesswork instead of extensive plotting or plan-making. I feel like, if I’d had even an iota of explanation behind some of the things that happened, I might have understood this read and the characters better. Instead, details were either flung at readers at a pace almost too fast to comprehend or left off completely.

There are bouts of info dump between a lot of confusing, jumpy dialogue. The perspective starts shifting in really awkward, unexpected ways, giving readers a look into characters that don’t help to bring the story to life but instead leave them confused and congealed. It feels as if, during editing, J.R. Stewart was told she needed to include more to make the story breathe…and so, instead of focusing on the plot points or on the science, brought in a bunch of new, unnecessary perspectives to drive the characters. Which didn’t work.

Overall, I just am not a fan of this book. I couldn’t connect with the character, the story feels a bit like it’s made from cardboard and been left to soak in the rain overnight…and I just couldn’t get INTO it. I wouldn’t recommend, I don’t think; while the writing’s not bad, the story falls flat. Of course, this could just be my personal opinion, so if you’re interested in virtual reality/sci fi and the blurb speaks to you, give it a shot! You might enjoy it more than I did. It seems that old saying is true once again: don’t judge a book by its cover. In this case…the cover was about a hundred times prettier.

0

A Review of Freak of Nature (IFICS #1), by Julia Crane

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Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

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Rating: 2/5 Stars (let’s say 2.5 though)
Quick Reasons: flat, boring plot for first 1/3rd of book; quick, blink-and-you-miss-it action in the last portion; world-building falls flat and is rather confusing at times; scientific details left out or unexplained; no sense of connection to characters or story

“You make my body feel like it’s revving up when I am standing still.”

There are a lot of things I don’t like about this book. They outweigh the few things I DID like, so I guess I’ll start with those, yes?

The cover for this book (and this series, to be honest) is absolutely gorgeous. When I first started looking into this book, I fell immediately in love with the cover—I mean really, it’s just so unique and pretty. The colors are engaging and eye-catching, the pose isn’t one I’ve seen on covers much, and the entire tone is just… Sci Fi. Mystery. I NEEDED to read it, even before I read the blurb. The blurb only helped to further my desire to pick this up. So when Amazon had it on “free” pricing, I snatched it real quick. I wasn’t about to let the chance pass me by.

The prose is decently done: it reads quickly, and is easy to follow. Kaitlyn, in her cyborg obliviousness, had some pretty awesome and entertaining one-liners; the snark in those moments made me WISH she was like that all the time and on purpose, instead of just when she was confused. I was intrigued by the story: there were some elements I’d never seen done before, and I was desperate to know what happened next, but… That’s about where the “like” stopped for me. Because the first third of this book? Boring. Absolutely nothing of interest happens, except we learn: 1. She’s part robot after some sort of tragic accident that almost killed her; 2. She still feels things though she’s been upgraded and programmed not to; 3. She’s attracted to Lucas, boy computer genius and programmer extraordinaire. No, really. That’s what we learn. Or, at least, those are seemingly the most important things we learn. It’s hard to tell, really, because the author doesn’t put emphasis on anything—everything we learn is the same flat, monotone, robotic NESS.

“You shouldn’t let a train track decide if you are good or bad.”

And even when the action begins, when things start unravelling… It all falls very, very flat. There are few descriptors, the prose isn’t beautiful but more “simplistic,” there is nothing to connect readers to the character, the world, or the story at all. Even the few “plot twists” are not twists but just more dredge piled atop an already crumbling, muddy mountain.

The worst is the world building, and the science. I’ve always HATED when people are like, “the science in this book stinks!” or “the science here doesn’t make any sense!” I always felt that those people were reading TOO MUCH into the book, looking for ways to connect the science they know and love with a made-up, fantastical world’s rules… But this book. THIS BOOK. This book made me understand a little of what they’re going through. I mean… The one thing that really got me, was the “downloaded memories.” She’s part robot? With a computer chip instead of a brain, apparently? HOW THE HELL can you download the memories of her previous life, like they’re so much computer data?!?! There are other examples, but that one. That one left me reeling. Because it’s true: It makes absolutely no sense.

I think I would have LOVED this read… if things had been written better. Instead, this mostly focuses on Kaitlyn’s “obsession” with boy genius Lucas, their “fall” into romance, and the different ways she’s so unique she can bypass even the strongest emotional overrides. None of this, of course, is explained in an adequate and logical way. Because she’s special. Because that’s just the way it is. Because Julia Crane couldn’t come up with any better way to do this aside from just throwing story telling out the window and doing whatever the hell she wanted to. (Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but…. Ick)

It was amazing that such beauty existed, and yet there was such ugliness in the world.

Overall, I just really didn’t like this book. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t! If you’re into sci fi, robots/cyborgs, forbidden love, and science that doesn’t have to make sense, maybe give this one a shot! I don’t recommend it, though—it just wasn’t the read for me.